Following the Angelus on Sunday, 12 December, Pope Francis said he is praying for victims of the tornadoes that struck at least five U.S. states on Sunday, causing widespread devastation and leaving scores of people feared dead. In a telegram — signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope and addressed to Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the u.s.c.c.b, the Holy Father expressed his sadness “to learn of the devastating impact of the tornadoes that struck the central and southern United States” in these days. He offered heartfelt prayers that “Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died, comfort to those who mourn their loss, and strength to all those affected by this immense tragedy”. The Pope expressed his gratitude “for the tireless efforts of the rescue workers and all engaged in caring for the injured, the grieving families and those left homeless” and invoked “upon all engaged in the massive work of relief and rebuilding, the Lord’s gifts of strength and generous perseverance in the service of their brothers and sisters”.
More than 20 people were killed in Kentucky, although the State’s governor says the death toll could rise to over 100. Forty people were rescued from a candle factory in the town of Mayfield, but as many as 70 others may have been killed when the twister hit. Tornadoes in four other states killed at least 30 more people, while the storm system also destroyed homes and businesses over a wide territory.