Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill

Church leaders pray for victims of quake and hurricane in Mexico

CARTAGENA, Colombia—Church leaders prayed for Mexicans and Guatemalans affected by the magnitude 8.1 earthquake that struck the Pacific Coast.

At the end of Mass in Villavicencio, Colombia, Sept. 8, Pope Francis prayed “for all the people who are suffering because of the earthquake last night in Mexico.”

In an early morning tweet, the Mexican bishops’ conference prayed, “God strengthen us as brothers in the faith to (be) available to those that have suffered in this strong earthquake.”

Later, the bishops said, “We want to express our solidarity with the Mexican people in the face of this suffering caused by the earthquake last night. … We offer prayers for the victims and especially the family and populations affected, mainly in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Tabasco.”

They also praised “the many prevention and security measures undertaken in buildings, along with the immediate actions of the authorities through civil protection programs.”

“We realize, however, how far we have to go in our caring for creation,” they added.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayers “for the victims and their families, as well as for emergency personnel and rescuers.”

“The Mexican and Guatemalan people are resilient in their faith and trust in the loving providence of God,” he said. He entrusted them to Our Lady of Guadalupe, “who, amidst the sorrows of life, reminds us today as she did 500 years ago: ‘Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the fountain of life?'”

The Sept. 7 quake occurred shortly before midnight. In less than 24 hours, Mexico’s seismology service reported more than 260 aftershocks, with the strongest registering magnitude 6.1.

By midday Sept. 10, Mexican officials put the death toll at 90, with most of the deaths occurring in the southern state of Oaxaca. Rescuers raced to rescue people trapped under rubble in the city of Juchitan on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 450 miles southeast of Mexico City, where the city hall partially collapsed.

Two children died in Tabasco state, with one dying after being crushed by a falling wall. The toll was expected to climb, and school was canceled in 10 states and Mexico City so officials could assess structural damage.

Father Alejandro Solalinde, a priest working with migrants in Oaxaca state, tweeted “solidarity and prayers with those affected by the earthquake in Mexico. Eternal rest for the deceased. Amen.”

State officials in Chiapas reported 1,000 homes destroyed and another 5,000 damaged. Several churches in the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas were damaged, according to media reports.

A diocesan priest, Father Marcelo Perez, said some churches were damaged, but was unable to say how many. The Catholic Church in Chiapas was attending to some of the displaced people, he added.

Other churches across southern Mexico were damaged by the earthquake, including four in the state of Oaxaca.

Across the border in Guatemala, the Catholic cathedral in Huehuetenango reported moderate damage. In San Marcos, Guatemala, the hospital was damaged, and rescuers reported moderate infrastructure damage.

Shortly after the earthquake occurred, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales took to Twitter to reassure citizens. Pena Nieto called the quake “the strongest in almost a century.”

Morales urged Guatemalans: “Please maintain calm and be on alert; we’ll have more information soon.”

The quake appeared to do little serious damage to Mexico City, which was devastated by a similarly strong quake in 1985. That earthquake left thousands dead and many more homeless. The federal government — responsible for Mexico City at the time — offered an inept response, forcing people to fend for themselves, and many Mexicans rose to the occasion by forming brigades to pull people out of rubble, including babies from a collapsed children’s hospital.

Experts say the epicenter being located around 400 miles to the southeast of the national capital may have made the earthquake less catastrophic in Mexico City, too.

Since that disaster, building codes in the national capital have improved, and earthquake drills are commonly practiced by apartment residents and office workers.

An earthquake was not the only disaster Mexico has had to deal with. Hurricane Katia slammed into the Veracruz coast Sept. 8, but weakened to tropical storm status after reaching land. The Veracruz state government reported two deaths due to mudslides triggered by the storm.

By David Agren / Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Carlos Jasso, Reuters: A man walks next to an earthquake-damaged building in Juchitan, Mexico, Sept. 9.


  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Jul 18 Tekakwitha Conference 2018
    From the Calendar of Native American Ministry
    Jul 27 4th National Black Catholic Women's Conference
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Jul 288:30 am Canon Law Course
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Aug 10 Last day of Summer Academy
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony of Padua School Greenville
    8:00 am 2018 Interregional African American Catholic Evangelization Conference
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Aug 17 CORE Training Weekend
    From the Calendar of Youth Ministry
    Aug 1910:00 am Volunteer Workday and Open House Potluck
    From the Calendar of St. John School North Charleston
    Aug 258:00 am Day of Prayer for Deacons
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Sep 1 Daniel Rudd Fund Application Closes
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    10:00 am Junta de Equipo Diocesano de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Sep 18 National Association of Black Catholic Administrators Annual Meeting
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Oct 13 Diocesan Evangelization Conference
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Oct 278:00 am Day of Continuing Education for Deacons
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Nov 1 Black Catholic History Month
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Nov 1010:00 am Junta de Equipo Diocesano de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 1210:00 am Junta Diocesana
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 17 Diocese of Charleston Native American Catholic Heritage Celebration
    From the Calendar of Native American Ministry
    Nov 18 Vietnamese Martyrs Celebration
    From the Calendar of Vietnamese Ministry
    Dec 1 Black Catholics Heritage Celebration
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Dec 15 Simbang Gabi for Filipino Catholics
    From the Calendar of Filipino Ministry