Pope prays for Guatemala fire victims, calls for action
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday called for prayerful solidarity with the victims of a deadly fire at a shelter for troubled youth in Guatemala.
The blaze the Refugio Virgen home on the outskirts of Guatemala City claimed at least 35 lives.
Authorities say the fire began in the girls’ dormitory, where someone ignited the mattresses in the wake of a mass detention following a foiled mass breakout attempt the day before.
The shelter has long been the subject of complaints about abuse, as well as criticism for inadequate food and overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.
Built to house 500 people, there were at least 800 guests registered at the time of the fire.
“I express my closeness to the people of Guatemala, who are living in mourning over the grave and sad fire that broke out inside the Casa Refugio Virgen de la Asunción [this past week], causing deaths and injuries among the girls who lived there,” said Pope Francis.
“May the Lord receive their souls, heal the wounded, console their grieving families and the whole nation,” he prayed, following the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
“I also pray and ask you to pray with me for all the girls and boys who are victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and war,” he continued.
“This is a plague,” he said, “this hidden scream that should be heard by all of us and that we cannot continue to pretend not to hear and to see.”