LAC-MÉGANTIC, QUE. – Pope Francis offered prayers for the people touched by the tragic July 6 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, said the Vatican secretary of state.
In a message released July 8 by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the pope offered words of condolence to the small community located near Quebec's border with Maine.
"His Holiness Pope Francis unites himself through prayer in the anguish of the grieving families, and he entrusts the victims to the mercy of God, asking him to welcome them into his light," the cardinal's message said.
"He expresses his deep sympathy to the injured persons and their families, to the emergency workers and to all the people around them, asking the Lord to support and comfort them in their hardship," the message continued.
"As a token of consolation, the Holy Father sends a special apostolic blessing to all persons touched by this tragedy," the message concluded.
The century-old Ste-Agnes Church, mere metres away from the blast site, sustained minimal damage from the accident, which occurred after a runaway freight train headed to a New Brunswick oil refinery derailed and exploded.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Pierre-André Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec, president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec, offered condolences and words of solidarity to Sherbrooke Archbishop Luc Cyr in a July 8 letter.
Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal called for a day of prayer July 14 for victims of the tragedy. He also called for a special collection to be taken in parishes.
The archbishop celebrated a Mass for accident victims and the people of Lac-Mégantic at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral July 14.