Following the devastation caused by tropical storm Agatha which devastated Guatemala, leaving 150 dead and many wounded Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the Apostolic Nuncio for the country, Liverpool priest, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
The telegram sent through Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, reads:
‘His Holiness Benedict XVI, deeply saddened to learn of the natural disasters that are affecting this beloved nation, causing deaths, injuries, much material damage, and leaving many families homeless, offers his fervent prayers for the eternal rest of those who have died. At the same time, he asks the Lord to grant his consolation to those suffering the severe tragedies and to increase the feelings of ardent charity in the Christian community to collaborate with the reconstruction in the devastated areas. Likewise, he exhorts the international community, national institutions, and all those of good will that, moved by fraternal solidarity, they might lend effective assistance to this country so that it may overcome this difficult period.
‘The Supreme Pontiff also wishes to send his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased as well as his paternal concern and spiritual nearness to those injured and the victims, offering the heartfelt comfort of his apostolic blessing as a sign of affection for the beloved Guatemalan people who are so near to the heart of the shepherd of the universal Church’.
Speaking from Guatemala Archbishop Gallagher said: ‘We are cleaning up after the eruption and storm, which thankfully declined sooner than expected. The story is not so positive in the poorer and more precarious areas of the city and much of the interior of the Country is devastated. My thanks go to those who have offered prayers and support.’