Pope Francis sent his condolences on Saturday to an Iraqi Christian community in Qaraqosh, northern Iraq, that was devastated by a massive fire at a crowded wedding reception that killed over 100 and injured 150.
“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the devastating effects of the fire in Qaraqosh, and he sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to everyone affected by this tragedy,” said the letter, written by the Holy See’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Francis visited the majority-Catholic city of Qaraqosh in 2021. It is one of the few surviving Christian communities in Iraq, following years of persecution and occupation at the hands of ISIS.
Following the deadly fire, the Holy Father sent his prayers to the deeply shaken community.
“Entrusting the souls of the deceased to the loving mercy of almighty God, he sends heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss,” Parolin wrote.
Parolin also said the pope “offers prayers for the injured and for the relief efforts of the emergency personnel” and “upon all he invokes the divine blessings of consolation, healing, and strength.”
The Christian community in Qaraqosh, in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains, was devastated last week after a fire broke out at a Syriac Catholic wedding celebration. The wedding venue caught fire Tuesday night, quickly burning the building down and trapping many of the guests inside.
The Nineveh Province Deputy Gov. Hassan al-Allaf told Reuters on Sunday that 113 people were killed and 150 injured.
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