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Pope Francis Offers Condolences as Wildfires Devastate Maui

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Pope Francis has expressed his heartfelt condolences following the tragic wildfires that have ravaged the Hawaiian island of Maui, claiming the lives of at least 55 individuals. In a condolence telegram issued on Friday, the Pope conveyed his sadness and solidarity with all those who have been affected by the destructive fires, which have left hundreds of buildings in ruins and numerous individuals missing or homeless.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/11/2023 (8 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Pope Francis, Maui, fires, condolences, prayers

The wildfires, which erupted on August 8th amid a dry summer, were exacerbated by the powerful winds from Hurricane Dora, creating an inferno that quickly spread. Many residents were caught off guard by the rapid advance of the flames, forcing them to flee on foot, while thousands of tourists were evacuated from the area.

Maui, the second-largest island in Hawaii by area and the third most populous, has been deeply impacted by the disaster. The town of Lahaina, which has historical significance as a former Hawaiian monarchy capital and a popular tourist destination, suffered substantial devastation with entire blocks reduced to ashes.

Responding to the situation, Patrick Downes, editor of the Diocese of Honolulu's Hawaii Catholic Herald, commented, "It's an unprecedented disaster. There are a lot of people instantly homeless."

In the telegram sent on Pope Francis's behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pontiff expressed his profound sorrow upon learning about the loss of life and destruction caused by the wildfires on Maui. Pope Francis extended his solidarity to all those affected by the tragedy, particularly those who have lost loved ones or are still unaccounted for.

The Pope's message also included assurances of prayers for the deceased, injured, and displaced individuals, as well as for the valiant efforts of the first responders and emergency personnel. The telegram conveyed the Pope's invocation of divine blessings of strength and tranquility upon the people of Maui during these challenging times.

Robert van Tassell, President and CEO of Catholic Charities Hawaii, emphasized the dramatic impact of the disaster on the local community. He stressed the urgent need for cash donations to aid in relief efforts, as over 1,200 families currently find themselves without homes. The Catholic Charities website, www.CatholicCharitiesHawaii.org, has set up a donation form for those wishing to contribute to the relief efforts.

Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, who was returning from World Youth Day, held a Zoom video conference call to lead prayers for the victims, their families, and the first responders. Approximately 300 people joined this impromptu prayer session organized by the bishop during a layover in California.

As efforts to rebuild and support those affected continue, the global community's outpouring of prayers and support has provided a glimmer of hope amidst the devastation.

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