On Sunday morning, Pope Francis turned global Catholic attention to the disaster in the Philippines, where 10,000 people are feared dead in one city alone in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
The Holy Father preached on the resurrection and eternal life in his Sunday Angelus, led thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square in silent prayer for the typhoon victims, and asked Catholics to “send concrete help.” The Philippines is the world’s third largest Catholic country, behind only Brazil and Mexico, and four out of every five people in the Philippines are Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. Filipinos are also one of Rome’s largest immigrant communities.
The Pope tweeted a prayer for the country, in a message that was retweeted more than 29,000 times.
Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin also sent a telegram on the Pope’s behalf to the Filipino President Benigno Aquino III. Here is his message, according to Vatican Radio:
“Deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this storm and its aftermath. He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and of those who have lost their homes. In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm. He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the Nation.”
Catholic Relief Services is already mobilizing aid and is preparing to send response teams as soon as the airports reopen.