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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday launched a prayer appeal for victims of recent natural disasters in the United States, Great Britain and South America.
The call came at the end of his general audience catechesis in St. Peter’s Square.
“I invite everyone to pray for the victims of the calamities which in these days have befallen the United States, Great Britain and South America, particularly Paraguay,” the pope said.
In the United States, severe weather that included tornadoes and flooding killed dozens of people over the past weekend, and continues to advance, bringing heavy snow and freezing rain over a great stretch of the country from Texas to northern New England.
The United Kingdom was in the throes of another major north Atlantic storm on Wednesday, after several episodes of severe weather provoked flooding from western Scotland to Wales, and especially in Cumbria and Yorkshire. Storm Frank, as the latest disturbance has been called by meteorologists, was expected to produce more heavy rain and wind gusts in excess of 80 km/h throughout much of the UK through Wednesday.
Paraguay has been the country in South America hardest hit by recent flooding that has spread across Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, causing several fatalities and inflicting massive damage, while driving at least 150,000 people from their homes.
Climatologists say the flooding is due to unusually heavy summer rains resulting from an intense “el Niño” weather phenomenon.
“May the Lord give comfort to all these peoples,” Pope Francis prayed, “and may fraternal solidarity aid them in their need.”