Pope Francis Prays for Victims of Sierra Leone Mudslide

With hundreds dead and nearly 600 more still missing, the Holy Father is praying for the victims, their families and rescue workers.

(photo: Pixabay)

VATICAN CITY — With hundreds dead and nearly 600 more still missing as a result of a giant mudslide that ravished Sierra Leone’s capital, Pope Francis is praying for the victims, their families and rescue workers.

“Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time,” read an Aug. 16 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Addressed to Freetown’s Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba, the telegram relayed the Pope’s sympathies and assured his prayers for all who have died.

The telegram comes two days after flooding and a large mudslide killed some 400 people in Sierra Leone’s capital city of Freetown Monday, with some 600 still missing.

According to the BBC, a mass burial of victims that had been scheduled for Wednesday in order to free up space in mortuaries has been delayed as the “chaotic” disaster continues to unfold.

Flooding is not uncommon in the overcrowded town of one million residents, leaving those who live in unsafe, makeshift housing especially at risk during natural disasters. Monday’s slide is thought to be the worst incident in the past two decades.

At least 100 houses were wiped out when a hillside in Regent, a mountain town some 15 miles east of Freetown, collapsed, submerging entire buildings and taking people with them.

Bodies have continued to be retrieved from the mud and rubble, but efforts to identify them are proving difficult in the chaos.

In his telegram, the Pope not only offered his prayers for the victims, but also extended “divine blessings of strength and consolation” upon their families.

Francis also expressed his “prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much-needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy