PUEBLA, Mexico, September 21, 2017–“We join in grieving the victims of the earthquake, which occurred today, Sept. 19, 2017, in different parts of our country,” said Archbishop José Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara and Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, president and secretary general, respectively, of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference.
“Once again, we are witnessing the solidarity of the Mexican people, who see the suffering of their brother,” they said, praising the lifesaving efforts to rescue and feed those affected by the quake.
“Today more than ever, we invite the People of God to unite in solidarity for our brothers who are suffering the different calamities that have plagued our country,” the bishops urged. “We ask for the comfort of our Mother Mary of Guadalupe, so that through her intercession she may help us and strengthen us, in the reconstruction of our country.”
On Tuesday afternoon, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake tore through Mexico. The epicenter of the tremor was some 80 miles southeast of Mexico City, in the state of Puebla.
According to government officials, the earthquake has killed at least 217 people. As rescue operations continue, the death toll is expected to rise.
At least 25 people – mostly children – were killed when a school in Mexico City partially collapsed, and at least 15 daily Mass attendees died as a church collapsed near Puebla.
Throughout the region, volunteers and rescue workers dug through the night to try to reach survivors.
The deadly quake struck exactly 32 years after the disastrous Sept. 19, 1985 earthquake of Mexico City, which killed thousands. It also comes only 12 days after a massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico on Sept. 7, killing at least 96.
In their statement, the leaders of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference promised that Church organizations will work to collect information and help coordinate a response.
In the past two weeks, the bishops have already been working on recovery operations from the Sept. 7 earthquake. The Catholic humanitarian organization Caritas has begun its relief efforts and echoed the bishops’ statement that a full response will come in coordination with other Church agencies.
In the Diocese of Puebla, local Caritas groups and the diocesan pastoral committee announced that they will distribute food, personal hygiene items and diapers to local shelters.
Pope Francis also expressed his concern and offered prayers for all those affected by the earthquake during his Wednesday general audience address.
“In this moment of sorrow I want to express my closeness and prayer to all the beloved Mexican population. Let us all raise our prayers together to God so that he may welcome into his bosom those who have lost their lives, comfort the wounded, their families and all those affected,” the Pope said, praying that the Virgin of Guadalupe would be “close to the beloved Mexican nation.”
The U.S. Catholic bishops also expressed their condolences in the wake of the disaster.
“Once again, our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Mexico, who yesterday suffered yet another catastrophic earthquake,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
“We join them in prayer and solidarity, and together invoke the maternal protection of our Lady of Guadalupe, Comforter of the Afflicted and Mother Most Merciful.” (CNA)