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VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged the survivors of Chile’s devastating quake to be courageous and asked the Catholic church to play a role in relief efforts.
The pontiff, speaking first in Italian and then in Spanish, told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that he was praying for the victims.
“My thoughts go to Chile and to the population struck by the earthquake, which has caused much loss of human life and huge damage,” Benedict said.
“I am sure that solidarity won’t be lacking,” he said, singling out the local church in that predominantly Roman Catholic country for a role in disaster relief.
“I pray for the victims, and I am spiritually close to those so tried by such a grave calamity,” he said. “For those, I implore God to give them relief from suffering and courage in this adversity.”
Separately, the head of the Chilean bishops conference said the church was offering its help to both local authorities and to volunteer workers.
“We are full of sorrow for our brothers and sisters who lost their life,” Rancagua bishop Alejandro Goic told Vatican Radio. “We express our closeness and we offer our prayers to their relatives and friends and to all those who lost their worldly goods they obtained with a lifetime of toil.”
The bishop added that the church was making an offer of assistance to Chile’s public authorities, state workers and volunteers.
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