Pope appeals for Turkey, Syria quake victims, Ukraine & New Zealand cyclone

During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis issues an appeal for help for all those suffering and killed by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, as the death toll climbs toward 50,000; the war in Ukraine; and the cyclone in New Zealand.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis has again appealed for helping those suffering the quake that hit Turkey and Syria, the war in Ukraine, and a devastating cyclone in New Zealand, during his Angelus address in the Vatican on Sunday at noon.

Addressing the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said, his thoughts go at this time to the peoples of these countries, hard hit by natural disasters, and war, that caused thousands of deaths and injuries.

“The love of Jesus,” he said, “asks us to let ourselves be touched by the situations of those who are tried.”

“I think especially of Syria and Turkey, of the many victims of the earthquake, but I also think of the daily dramas of the dear Ukrainian people and of so many peoples who suffer because of war … poverty, lack of freedom or environmental devastation ….”

This marks the latest exhortation of the Holy Father to help the earthquake victims and those suffering the war in Ukraine.

This Friday, 24 Feb., will mark a year since the start of the devastating war which has claimed countless lives, a year full of Pope Francis’ appeals for peace, aid, and an end to the violence.

Renewed appeal for Turkey, Syria quake victims

Turning to the earthquake, the Pope has appealed numerous times for aid and prayers for the nations’ suffering people, and sent aid himself, through the Dicastery for the Service of Charity.

In the past, he said: “With emotion I pray for them, and express my closeness to these peoples, to the families of the victims and to all those who are suffering from this devastating calamity.” The Pope thanked those who are working to bring relief, and encouraged everyone to show solidarity with those territories, “some of which have already been battered by a long war.”

Two earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey early last week, devastating wide areas in the country and in neighbouring Syria. The quake toppled hundreds of buildings and killed thousands of people. The death toll is climbing toward 50,000.

New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster this century

“I am close,” the Pope also underscored, “to the people of New Zealand, who have been hit in recent days by a devastating cyclone.” 

“Brothers and sisters, let us not forget those who suffer and let our charity be attentive, let it be a concrete charity!”

The death toll from Cyclone ‘Gabrielle’ in New Zealand climbed to 11 on Sunday as thousands of people remained missing a week after the storm struck the country’s North Island.

According to Reuters, the cyclone hit the island’s northernmost region on 12 Feb., and tracked down the east coast, inflicting widespread devastation.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called Gabrielle New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster this century.