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Church scrambles to join relief effort after massive Morocco earthquake

As Morocco continues to struggle to cope with its worst earthquake to strike a major urban center in a century, which so far has left almost 3,000 people dead and at least that number injured, Catholic leaders are scrambling to contribute to the relief effort.

Rescue teams are engaged in a race against time as they dig up the rubble in desperate attempts to find survivors. The 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country late Friday night, and goes into record as the deadliest in the country since 2004, when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the port city of Al Hoceima.



The epicenter of Friday’s quake was not far from popular tourist and economic hub Marrakech, accounting for the high numbers of dead and injured. It damaged towns and villages near the base of the Atlas Mountains, while also ripping through the center and suburbs of Marrakech.

The sheer level of devastation has got global leaders showing solidarity. Pope Francis on Sunday offered prayers for the victims as he addressed crowds at St Peter’s Square shortly after delivering his Angelus message.


“I pray for the injured, for those who have lost their lives,” the pontiff said. “We stand with the people of Morocco.”

Earlier on Saturday, Francis, through the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a telegram to Moroccan authorities expressing his sadness and solidarity with the people of the northern African country in their moment of need.

“Having learned with sorrow of the earthquake that violently struck Morocco, His Holiness pope Francis wishes to express his prayerful communion in the face of this natural disaster,” the letter said.


“Saddened by this event, the pope expresses his profound solidarity with those who are touched in their flesh and heart by this tragedy: he prays for the repose of the dead, the healing of the injured and the consolation of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and their homes.”

“The Holy Father prays to the Most High to support Moroccans in this time of trial and offers his encouragement to the civil authorities and rescue services. He willingly invokes divine blessings on all as a token of comfort,” Parolin’s letter said.

The church in Morocco has also been expressing closeness to those afflicted by the tragedy.

“Let us pray with Our Lady of Morocco for the victims and their families,” said the Archdiocese of Rabat in a September 9 statement. The diocese has churches in Marrakech and Ouarzazate, two localities affected by the earthquake.

The statement expressed solidarity “especially for those Moroccan families who are mourning or who have injured family members.”

“We are appealing for emotional and effective solidarity with those in distress at this time,” it said.

“May God help us to draw positive consequences from this painful event, by transforming our hearts into hearts of mercy, solidarity and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters in distress.”

Caritas, the charitable wing of the Catholic Church, also has joined Francis in expressing solidarity with the Moroccan people.

In a statement September 10, Caritas Internationalis announced that it was working “to provide immediate relief and support to those affected by this tragedy. Our organization is in continuous communication with Caritas Morocco, and we are actively collaborating with Caritas Middle East and other Caritas Members worldwide.”

Read more at Crux 

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