“It’s an unprecedented disaster,” Patrick Downes, editor of the Diocese of Honolulu’s Hawaii Catholic Herald, told CNA on Aug. 10. “There are a lot of people instantly homeless.”
The telegram sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and the destruction caused by the wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui.”
The pope expressed “his solidarity with all those suffering from this tragedy, especially those whose loved ones have died or are missing,” and offered “the assurance of prayers for the dead, injured, and displaced, as well as for the first responders and emergency personnel.”
“As a sign of his spiritual closeness, the Holy Father willingly invokes upon all the people of Maui Almighty God’s blessings of strength and peace,” the telegram said.
Robert van Tassell, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities Hawaii, told CNA that the effect of the disastrous fire on the Hawaiian community has been “very dramatic.”
“Right now we’re establishing shelters and food relief and those kinds of things,” Van Tassell said.