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 CNS Story:

FRANCIS-FLOODING (UPDATED) Apr-5-2013 (270 words) With photos April 4 and 5. xxxi

Pope expresses his closeness to victims of flooding in Buenos Aires

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Affirming his closeness to his "beloved Argentine people," Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims of recent flooding in Buenos Aires and surrounding areas, and he urged government offices and private citizens to help those most in need.

The pope, wanting to express his spiritual closeness "in a concrete way," also sent $50,000 to the Archdiocese of La Plata to assist victims of the flooding, according to Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, the Vatican nuncio to Argentina. The majority of those who died in Argentina following torrential rains were in and around La Plata.

The Argentine Catholic news agency, known by the acronym AICA, reported April 5 that the pope's donation was sent through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which distributes papal charity and encourages Catholic charitable giving.

Unusually heavy rains in early April caused flash floods and flooding that were blamed for causing more than 50 deaths in and around Buenos Aires -- where the pope had been archbishop -- and La Plata.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, wrote in a message to the new archbishop of Buenos Aires, Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli, that Pope Francis was deeply saddened to hear of all the damaged caused by the flooding, was praying for the deceased and wanted everyone touched by the tragedy to know he was close to them.

"At the same time, the Holy Father encourages civil and ecclesiastical institutions, as well as all people of good will, in a spirit of charity and Christian solidarity to provide the necessary help to those who have lost their homes or personal belongings," the message said.


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