Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete help for the thousands of people affected by the deadly Ebola virus.
“I hope the international community may provide much-needed help to alleviate the sufferings of our brothers and sisters,” he said in an appeal at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 24.
Before leading the 30,000 people in the square in a prayer to Mary, the pope said he had been praying for those hit by this “terrible disease” and epidemic in West Africa.
It was the second time in the past 24 hours that the pope spoke about the outbreak.
The pope highlighted the church’s valuable work in helping deal with the disease, during an address Sept. 23 to bishops from Ghana. The bishops were at the Vatican for their periodic “ad limina” visits.
“I pray for the repose of the souls of all who have died in this epidemic, among whom are priests, men and women religious and health care workers who contracted this terrible disease while caring for those suffering,” the pope said in the written address.
“May God strengthen all health care workers there and bring an end to this tragedy,” he said.
An estimated 5,000 West Africans already have been infected with the Ebola disease, which has killed approximately 2,500 people.
The World Health Organization estimates there will be more than 20,000 Ebola cases by Nov. 2.