Francis writes condolence letter to ferry family members

Pope Francis has written a condolence letter to the families of those still missing in April’s ferry sinking, saying he prayed for the victims of the tragedy throughout his stay in South Korea.

“I deeply regret that I was not able to personally visit and comfort everyone who is suffering,” the pontiff began in the letter written in Korean with his signature at the bottom. “However, I never forgot to pray for the deceased, the missing and all their families during my stay in South Korea.” 

The letter listed all 10 victims who are still missing, along with a prayer to Jesus Christ to “look after them so they may be reunited with their parents and families as soon as possible.”

“I don’t know how to put into words my consolation for the families who are in great pain still waiting for the missing to be found,” the pontiff. 

The letter was reported in Korean news outlets Tuesday.

The letter, together with a rosary offered by Pope Francis, was to be delivered by a local priest Tuesday to the families who are still waiting for the bodies of family members to be recovered at a southeastern port near the accident site.

Francis had also asked to have the letter forwarded “with warm words of consolation while holding the hands of the families,” according to Kim Geon-tae, a South Korean priest assigned to deliver the letter. 

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The pope was given letters from family members of the Sewol disaster victims on two separate occasions during his visit, including during his meeting with representatives of the survivors and grieving families shortly before he led a mass on Friday in the central city of Daejeon. 

Francis also received a letter at the beatification ceremony in Gwanghwamun Square, downtown Seoul, from a father who is on a hunger strike to demand an independent inquiry into the accident in which his daughter was killed.

The 6,825-ton Sewol ferry capsized off the southwest coast on April 16. So far, 294 people, mostly high school students, have been found dead, with 10 missing and presumed dead. 

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July 14-27, 2017