Today, the pope opened his General Audience by announcing that he had originally prepared his catechesis on the subject of the closeness of Jesus.
"On hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and which has devastated many areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted.”
Pope Francis postponed his catechesis in light of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy in the region of Umbria and Lazio as early as 3:35 a.m., local Rome time today. Shocks were also felt 170 kilometers away in Rome.
"I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid.”
At least 73 people are dead and others are reportedly still trapped under rubble after the devastating earthquake. The pope prayed with the pilgrims in solidarity and invited them all to recite the Holy Rosary.
The Pope then offered his thanks to all the volunteer and rescue workers assisting in the affected areas. In addition, the Italian Bishop’s Conference (CEI) has already decided to donate 1 million euros to the most urgent relief efforts to the areas affected.