Archbishop Gomez urges prayer, support for those affected by winter storm

shutterstock_1919885498.jpg An ambulance drives amid snow in Austin, Texas, Feb. 16, 2021. Credit: ChangJr LIN/Shutterstock.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles on Friday encouraged prayer and support for those affected by a major winter storm across the southern US.

"I join my brother bishops in praying for all those who have died and been injured in the recent winter storms. We pray especially for those without power and heat and for first responders who are offering assistance to those with urgent needs," the archbishop, who is president of the US bishops' conference, said Feb. 19.

"In our Lenten almsgiving, let us find concrete ways to help our brothers and sisters. I entrust those who are suffering to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother Mary. May she grant them all comfort and peace."

The US bishops are organizing aid through Catholic Charities USA.

Much of the effects of the storm have been felt in Texas. At least 24 persons have died.

Blackouts in Texas have created shortages of energy, food, and water, forcing the region to suspend classes, create "warming centers" for the elderly, and issue alerts to boil tap water because of blackouts at water treatment plants.

Catholic churches in several Texas dioceses, including San Antonio and Fort Worth, have opened their doors to serve as warming shelters.

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville granted a dispensation from abstinence from meat for the Friday after Ash Wednesday, while Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth tweeted that "If people are faced with powerless freezers and meat threatening to spoil or with dangerous road conditions, or empty stores b/c of the weather. They should consider themselves to be dispensed from the obligation to abstain from meat" on the Friday after Ash Wednesday.

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