At least 77 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the 7.8 earthquake outside northern town of Muisne, the BBC reports.
“We pray for those inhabitants, as well as for those of Japan, where there have been some earthquakes in recent days,” the Pope said.
“May the help of God and their neighbors give them strength and support.”
Before leading the crowds in the Regina Caeli prayer, Pope Francis gave his reflection on the day's Gospel reading, centering his address on what it means to listen to God's voice.
The Pope cited the day's Gospel account in which Jesus refers to his “sheep” who hear his voice and follow him.
“No one can be said to be a follower of Jesus, if he is not ready to listen to his voice,” he said. What is being referred to here is not a “superficial” listening, the Pope explained. Rather, it is a listening which comes not only comes from the ear, but also from “the heart.”
“The image of the shepherd and the sheep shows the close relationship that Jesus wants to establish with each of us,” the Pope said. “He is our guide, our teacher, our friend, our model, but above all he is our Savior.”
“Our life is completely safe in the hands of Jesus and the Father, who are one: one love, one mercy, revealed once and for all in the sacrifice of the cross,” he said
In order to save all of us, “the shepherd became a lamb and let himself be sacrificed in order to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world,” he said. “This mystery is renewed, in an always surprising humility, on the Eucharistic table.”
“For this reason, we no longer fear: our lives are now saved from perdition.”
After the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis recalled that this Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, during which the faithful are invited to “pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.”
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In his address, the Pope greeted in particular eleven newly-ordained priests – nine of whom are from the diocese of Rome – along with their families and friends.
Pope Francis had presided over the priestly ordinations of the eleven men that morning in St. Peter's Basilica.
During the ordination Mass, he delivered the standard homily from the Italian edition of the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, but digressed from the text several times to offer advice to the men about to be ordained.
“Carry the death of Christ in yourselves, and walk with Christ in newness of life,” he said during the homily in unscripted remarks before the rite of ordination. “Without the cross, you will never find the true Jesus. A cross without Christ makes no sense.”
Pope Francis went on to remind the men to be aware that they have been “chosen among men.”
“Chosen, do not forget this. Chosen! And the Lord who has called you, one by one.”