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Pope mourns with cyclone-ravaged Madagascar


Richard BOUHET / AFP

Forecasters of Meteo France, French national meteorological service, are at work to monitor "Batsirai",

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 02/20/22

Thousands have been displaced as the island nation is slammed by one storm after another.

Pope Francis assured the people of Madagascar his closeness and prayers, as the island nation struggles to recover from the double blow of Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Batsirai.

So far, Batsirai is the deadliest tropical cyclone of the year.

The Holy Father sent a message through his Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and also mentioned the natural disasters after he prayed the midday Angelus on February 20.

“Pope Francis expresses his prayerful communion with all those affected by these natural disasters,” the message said. “… He expresses his profound solidarity with those affected by this tragedy and prays for the repose of the dead, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and their homes.”

Tropical Storm Ana killed 55 people in January, and displaced thousands. Then this month, February 5, Cyclone Batsirai killed another 120 people and left many more thousands without homes.

“May the Lord receive the victims in his peace, console their relatives and support those who come to their aid,” the Pope said after praying the Angelus.

Tropical Storm Dumako hit the northeast coast of Madagascar on February 15, killing at least 14. Another storm is forecast for this week.

Most tropical storms and cyclones hit the area between November and the end of April, so there are still various weeks left in this year’s storm season.

Madagascar is also recovering from the effects of a three-year drought.

The 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom reports:

According to the most recent national census in 1993, 52% of Malagasy adhere to indigenous beliefs, 41% are Christian, and 7% Muslim. It is common to alternate between religious identities or to mix traditions, and many individuals hold a combination of indigenous and Christian or Muslim beliefs.

The Holy Father visited Madagascar in 2019.

That young woman of Nazareth is now the Mother who watches over her children as they walk in life, often weary and in need, but always anxious that the light of hope not be extinguished. This is what we desire for Madagascar, for each of you and your friends: that the light of hope not be extinguished.

Pope Francis delivers his message during his visit to the City of Friendship community in Akamasoa, Madagascar, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019.
Papa Madagascar
Pope Francis’ waves faithful as he arrives at the Androhibe Soamandrakizay diocesan grounds for a vigil with the youths in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on september 7, 2019.
Pope Francis
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