Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, Chile, after the country was hit by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake on April 1, which reportedly killed six people and caused significant damage.
“I wish to send all Chileans my affection and closeness,” the Pope said in his letter.
He told Chileans that he was “deeply saddened upon learning the news of the earthquake that has resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as material damage, and that has displaced a large number of people in that beloved country.”
“I pray that God will grant eternal rest to the people who died, consolation to those who experienced the effects of such misfortune and, at the same time, inspire hope in everyone to face adversity,” the Pope wrote.
He asked Christian communities, civil society groups and all people of good will to offer their assistance, “with a generous spirit and fraternal charity,” to all those affected by the quake. The Pope concluded his message by invoking the protection of Our Lady of Carmel on the Chilean people and imparting to them his blessing.
Bishop Guillermo Vera, who was recently installed in the Diocese of Iquique, visited areas hit by the earthquake on the morning of April 2, according to the national bishops’ conference.
“Our people, who are living temples of the Lord, are the first priority at this time,” he said.
Bishop Vera evacuated his own home during the earthquake and spent the following hours visiting with victims and surveying the diocese’s parishes, schools and churches for damage.
According to news reports, a 7.6-magnitude aftershock struck the region later on April 2.
In La Serena, also located in northern Chile, Archbishop Rene Rebolledo called for prayers for those affected by the quake, “especially those who lost family members and who are living in uncertainty.”