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Pope Francis urges faithful to ‘be close to the people of Morocco’ in wake of earthquake

A man looks at the rubble of homes in the village of Talat N’Yaaqoub south of Marrakech in Morocco on Sept. 11, 2023. The quake that struck the country on Sept. 8 killed at least 2,122 people, injured more than 2,400 others, and flattened entire villages. / Credit: FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 11, 2023 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed solidarity with the people of Morocco on Sunday in the wake of that country’s devastating earthquake and offered his prayers for material help in response to the tragedy and the charity group pledging to help distribute it.

The country was hit by a 6.8-magnitude quake overnight on Friday, with the death toll rapidly climbing to upward of 2,500 fatalities amid major building collapses there.

Pope Francis last week had offered “prayerful communion in the face of this natural disaster.” In the pope’s customary address after his regular Sunday recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father reiterated his “proximity to the dear people of Morocco” in the wake of the disaster. 

“I pray for the injured, for those who have lost their lives — so many! — and for their relatives,” Francis said. 

“I thank the rescue workers and those who are working to alleviate the suffering of the people,” he continued, praying for “concrete help on the part of everyone” to “support the population at this tragic time” and urging Catholics to “be close to the people of Morocco.”

The global Catholic charity group Caritas Internationalis, meanwhile, said in a statement on Sunday that it “joins hands with Pope Francis and extends its condolences and support to the victims of the devastating earthquake that has struck Morocco.”

“Caritas Internationalis is working to provide immediate relief and support to those affected by this tragedy,” the group said. “Our organization is in continuous communication with Caritas Morocco, and we are actively collaborating with Caritas Middle East and other Caritas Members worldwide.” 

The charity group said its network was “dedicated to conducting assessments and coordinating a comprehensive response in the hours and days ahead.” 

“As we stand united in our prayers for the victims and their families, Caritas Internationalis reaffirms its commitment to alleviating the suffering caused by this devastating earthquake,” the statement said. 

“Our mission is to extend a helping hand to those in need and to embody the message of love, compassion, and solidarity that Pope Francis exemplifies.”

Rescue workers and emergency responders in Morocco were working on Monday to free survivors from the rubble left by the earthquake. The disaster has become the deadliest quake in Morocco in several decades. 

Particularly hard-hit was the historic town of Marrakesh, a cultural and economic center of the region. Significant portions of the city were left in ruins after the tremor.

The epicenter of the quake was located a little over 40 miles outside of Marrakesh.

To help the victims of the earthquake visit Caritas’ website here.

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