VATICAN/CHILE, Maria Fischer •
The worst forest fires registered in Chile’s history are affecting southern Chile. More than 4 million people were deployed to attend to the emergency. Among them were military personnel, firefighters, volunteers and brigades, as well as thirty-seven aircraft, water trucks and heavy machinery to combat the fires. Six deaths have been reported from the worst forest fires in Chile’s history. They have consumed more than 190,000 hectares of forests and farmland in the central and southern part of the country, according to the latest report from the National Forestry Corporation of Chile (Conaf). The latest one to lose his life was Hernán Avilés González, 27, who was trapped in fence wires as he tried to rescue a family in the Maule region, of the Santa Olga de Empedrado sector.
Pope Francis prayed for those killed and those impacted by the fires affecting different zones in Chile. He prayed for strength and consolation for the victims. Moreover he invited everyone to alleviate the sorrow with generosity and charity.
In a note from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, addressed to the president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, Bishop Santiago Silva, Pope Francis expressed his closeness and solidarity with the families that have suffered from the devastating forest fires that have caused serious damage in the central region of the country.
The document expressed: “Upon learning the sad news about the wildfires that have affected this beloved country, Pope Francis offers condolences for the eternal rest of the deceased.” At the same time, he expresses his “spiritual closeness to the wounded and those who suffer the consequences of this catastrophe.”
The Pope also asks his most heartfelt condolences to be transmitted to the victims’ relatives. At the same time, Pope Francis “raises prayers for the Lord to grant strength and comfort to those affected by the outbreaks and inspire in all sentiments of solidarity, so that in these difficult times they collaborate effectively, with generosity and charity, to alleviate pain and to overcome adversity, while imparting to them the comforting apostolic blessing.”
Let us not leave Pope Francis alone in his prayers for Chile, but join in contributing our capital of grace.
Chile’s Schoenstatt Family: Initiatives of solidarity
Several days ago, the Schoenstatt Families from Rancagua and San Fernando already asked Chile’s entire Schoenstatt Family to join the great effort that they are carrying out to help covenant brothers/sisters and compatriots who have lost their material goods from this catastrophe. At two stands, they are receiving non-perishable food, bottled water, high-energy foods, diapers, hygiene articles (for household or personal use), new clothes, new household utensils or those in excellent condition, sunblock, and masks. Moreover they opened a bank account for receiving donations.
We pray to God the Father and the Blessed Mother that the situation does not worsen, that it will be controlled soon, and they especially bless and console those who lost everything, and those, who risk their lives in such a brave and selfless way to combat the fires.
Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA