Pope Benedict expresses solidarity with Hurricane Katrina, Iraqi bridge victims

.- Following Sunday's Angelus at his summer residence of Castelgandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his prayer and support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the subsequent floods, which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast last week. The Holy Father prayed specifically for the dead and their families, the injured, the homeless, the sick, children and the elderly.

He also blessed "those involved in the difficult work of rescue and rebuilding," and said that he had entrusted Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," to share the Pope's solidarity and closeness with victims of what is being called the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

The Pope also assured his thoughts and prayers which "go to the Iraqi people who last Wednesday witnessed the deaths of hundreds of their fellow citizens - mostly elderly people, women and children - who had gathered in Baghdad for a religious ceremony, victims of an unstoppable moment of panic. May the Almighty touch everyone's hearts so that a climate of reconciliation and reciprocal trust may finally be instated in that troubled country."

Reports say that almost 1,000 people died in the Iraqi bridge stampede when rumors of a suicide bomber began spreading through a crowd of religious pilgrims.

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