South Korea’s Catholic bishops pray for Halloween crowd surge victims

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Catholic bishops in South Korea have offered condolences to the bereaved families of the more than 150 people killed in a crowd surge during Halloween festivities in Seoul on Saturday night.

The South Korean bishops’ conference released a statement on Oct. 30 offering prayers for the immediate recovery of the injured and calling on civil authorities to “thoroughly examine” what led to the disaster.

The bishops underlined that nothing in society should be put before human life and dignity and asked local authorities to respond accordingly to ensure that a disaster like this is never repeated.

Police in Seoul announced on Oct. 31 that they had launched a 475-member task force to investigate how the crowd surge developed. The Associated Press reported that an estimated 100,000 people celebrated in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood when the crowd surge occurred.

Among the victims was Anne Gieske, an American college student from Kentucky studying abroad in South Korea, and 25 other foreign nationals.

The Korean bishops offered to accompany the bereaved families of the disaster victims and entrusted “the victims who sadly lost their lives in the disaster in Itaewon in Seoul to God’s mercy.”

Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the crowd surge at the end of his Angelus address.

“And let us also pray to the Risen Lord for those, mostly young people, who died last night in Seoul from the tragic consequences of a sudden crowd surge,” the pope said.

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