Pope’s prayers and closeness to quake-struck people of Türkiye

Pope Francis receives the new Ambassador of Türkiye to the Holy See and reaffirms his sorrow and prayers for the suffering caused by the deadly earthquake.

By Linda Bordoni

“My thoughts and prayers go to the noble Turkish people at this time of such sorrow. Dear brothers and sisters, I am close to you and I pray [for you]. With fraternal affection, Franciscus.”

Pope Francis presented the new Ambassador of Türkiye to the Holy See with a book in which he personally penned this dedication expressing his grief for the 6 February earthquake that killed over 41,000 people and triggered a devastating humanitarian emergency.

Ambassador Ufuk Ulutaş was received in audience on Thursday morning by the Pope for the presentation of his credentials at the beginning of his diplomatic mandate.

Pope's note written during encounter with Ambassador Ufuk Ulutaş

Pope’s note written during encounter with Ambassador Ufuk Ulutaş

The earthquakes

The quakes that struck southeastern Turkey and its neighbour, northern Syria, are estimated to be the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the territory.

Turkish authorities say 36,187 people have been killed in the country. Ten days after the earthquake, search and rescue operations continue in the worst-hit areas and survivors are still being pulled from the rubble – like 13-year-old Mustafa, who was rescued after spending 228 hours under the debris of a collapsed building in Antakya, in Turkey’s Hatay province.

Pope’s appeals

Pope Francis has repeatedly appealed for prayers and gestures of concrete solidarity for all those affected by the earthquake. On Wednesday, the Papal Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, personally delivered boxes of thermal garments to a humanitarian expedition destined for Turkey, and economic aid to the apostolic nunciature in Syria to support the Syrian people “already exhausted by so many years of war and now by the devastating earthquake.”