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Pope, US bishops pray for deadly tornado victims

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Church leaders respond with prayers and pledges of help after deadly storms leave a trail of death and destruction across the United States.

By Christopher Wells

After Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Francis said he was praying for the victims of the tornadoes that hit at least five US states on Sunday, causing widespread havoc and killing dozens.

United in prayer

More than twenty people have been killed in Kentucky, although the state governor says the death toll could rise to more than 100. Forty people were rescued from a candle factory in the town of Mayfield , but up to 70 others may have been killed when the tornado hit. Tornadoes in four other states killed at least 30 more, while the storm system also destroyed homes and businesses across a wide area.

Bishop William Medley of Owensboro, whose diocese was particularly affected, called on the Catholic community to “unite in prayer … for all the suffering caused by the disaster.”

He said in a statement on Saturday that in light of the “catastrophic devastation” across the diocese, he is calling on each parish to put together a special collection to help the victims. He noted that the diocese, through its Catholic Charities office, is ready to offer “immediate assistance and services to those displaced or in immediate need of emergency financial assistance.”

Prayers for peace, comfort, hope

Nationally, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of the United States, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and the chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, added their prayers for the dead and injured, and for their grieving families and communities. “May those who have been touched by these storms find peace, comfort and hope in our faith and in the infinite love of God.

In their statement, the archbishops also prayed for emergency responders and those reaching out to assist affected communities in recovery efforts. “We entrust all our brothers and sisters in danger to our Blessed Mother”, they declared, adding, “we ask for her continued protection and her intercession to comfort those who are suffering”.

USCCB leaders noted that “Catholics and all people of good will can help our brothers and sisters in their recovery by supporting the work of Catholic Charities USA at https://www.catholiccharities.us/ campaign / ccusa-disaster-relief / c353051.