Pope Francis Offers Condolences After Spanish Fishing Boat Sinks Off Canada, Leaving at Least 10 Dead

AFP reported on Feb. 16 that 10 of the 24 crew members were confirmed dead, three rescued from a life raft, and 11 unaccounted for.

Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil at the Vatican, Oct. 3, 2015.
Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil at the Vatican, Oct. 3, 2015. (photo: Mazur / catholicnews.org.uk.)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis offered his “heartfelt condolences” on Friday after a Spanish fishing boat sank off the coast of Canada, leaving at least 10 people dead.

The Pope sent a telegram of condolence on Feb. 18 after the Villa de Pitanxo, a boat from Spain’s northwestern Galicia region, went down on Feb. 15 in rough seas 280 miles from the Newfoundland coast.

AFP reported on Feb. 16 that 10 of the 24 crew members were confirmed dead, three rescued from a life raft, and 11 unaccounted for. The crew consisted of 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians, and three Ghanaians.

“Upon hearing the sad news of the sinking of the fishing boat Villa de Pitanxo, which occurred on Feb. 15, off the coast of Canada, and in which several people lost their lives, the Holy Father expresses his heartfelt condolences, as well as his solidarity, in these moments of sorrow,” said the telegram, which was sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Archbishop Julián Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela.

“His Holiness Francis raises to God his prayers for the eternal repose of the victims and also expresses his closeness to the families who mourn their loved ones.” 

“He also commends to the mercy of the Lord and to the maternal care of the Mother of God the people affected by this accident, while imparting the apostolic blessing, as a pledge of the constant help of the Most High and as a sign of sure hope in the resurrection.”

On the same day, the Pope sent a condolence message following landslides and flooding in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis that claimed more than 100 lives. 

In the telegram sent by Parolin to Bishop Gregório Paixão Neto of Petrópolis, a municipality in Brazil’s Southeast Region, the Pope expressed his sorrow at the disaster and said he was praying for the victims and their families.

One-year-old Yonnan Flamand is lifted into the air by his father, Alland Flamand, as Pope Francis delivers remarks at the Citadelle of Quebec on the Plains of Abraham on Wednesday in Quebec, Canada.

Colm Flynn on the Papal Trip to Canada (July 30)

Pope Francis was in Canada this week on what he has called a ‘penitential pilgrimage.’ His aim was to address the harms suffered by Indigenous individuals and communities in Canada. The papal trip had three main stops: first Edmonton in the west, then Quebec City in the east (for the Pope to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) and, finally, a visit to the remote Baffin Island community of Iqaluit, in the far north. EWTN News was able to travel with the papal press corps during the trip, and the Register provided a special report from Edmonton by Colm Flynn just before the Holy Father touched down in North America. Colm Flynn joins us here with his story.