A response of prayer and solidarity to the Chapecoense plane crash

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A wave of solidarity and calls for prayer have inundated social networks and the media following Monday's crash in Colombia of a plane carrying 81 people, including Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team.

Only six persons reportedly survived the Nov. 28 accident.

The plane's pilot reported electrical failures as it approached Medellin around 10:15 pm on Monday. It crashed moments later in a mountainous area near La Union, less than 20 miles south of Rionegro.

Pope Francis sent a message to Bishop Fidel Leon Cadavid Marin of Sonson-Rionegro Nov. 29 through the Vatican Secretariat of State.

"The Holy Father, deeply distressed knowing the painful news of the grave accident with numerous victims, lifts up his prayers for the eternal rest of the deceased," read the message.

"I also ask your excellency to transmit the condolences of His Holiness to the family and to those who mourn such  a great loss, together with expression of affection, solidarity, and comfort to those wounded and affected by this tragic event."

The plane, flying from Brazil by way of Bolivia, was taking Associação Chapecoense de Futebol to play Atlético Nacional, a Medellin-based team, in the final of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana. Atlético Nacional has asked that the cup be awarded to Chapecoense.

Chapecoense is a small team from Chapeco, in southern Brazil. It had been promoted to Brazil's top soccer division in 2014, and had had an exceptional season this year.

In addition to the team members, 21 journalists were aboard the flight. Three of the survivors are Chapecoense players.

"It's a difficult time to speak," Bishop Odelir José Magri of Chapeco said in a video message Tuesday. "There are no words to express this event. We wish, in the first place, to manifest our communion and solidarity. We are suffering together, everyone."

Bishop Magri continued: "We wish to live this not in desperation, but in the dimension of faith, of hope. We know that what can unite us, what give us strength, what can reinforce our communion in this moment is the dimension of faith, of prayer, of petition and intercession for the presence, the grace, and the power of God."

A Mass is being said this evening at the Chapeco cathedral for the victims of the crash.

The Diocese of Chapeco had tweeted earlier: "Our prayer and solidarity are with the members and family of Chapecoense."

Bishop Cadavid stated that "We express our most profound sentiment of sadness with the families of the persons who lost their lives in this fatal accident; we encourage the survivors and all the athlets of the world to follow, as Pope Francis says, in the construction of a more fraternal world, with greater solidarity, through sports."

He added his hope that God "would bless and accompany the families of the deceased and give them comfort in this difficult situation."

Radamel Falcao, a striker for the Colombian national team, tweeted: "My prayers and solidarity for the survivors, family, and friends of @ChapocoenseReal at this most difficult time."

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