Pope offers prayers for battered Gulf Coast, encourages generosity for the suffering

.- Following yesterday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for victims in the battered U.S. Gulf Coast who had just suffered through a second major hurricane, Hurricane Rita, even as they still struggle to recover from the devastation of Katrina. "Our thoughts", said the Pope, "go especially to those who are affected by the natural disasters in the United States and other parts of the world."

He invited all present to join with him "in prayer to the Lord for all who suffer, for the victims and their loved ones, and for the rescue workers.

The Holy Father specifically called on Spanish-speaking faithful to help those afflicted by the natural disasters "collaborating effectively, with a generous spirit and Christian charity, to mitigate pain and overcome adversity."

Officials in the area say that some 3 million residents were evacuated from the path of Rita which struck over the weekend, thus avoiding many of the fatalities caused by Katrina in the New Orleans region. Nevertheless, millions remain homeless today as the speculated worst hurricane season in U.S. history continues to barrel on.


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