Pope Expresses 'Heartfelt Sorrow' For Italy Quake Victims

The Pope addressed the unfolding tragedy, prayed for victims and survivors.

— -- Pope Francis replaced his weekly catechesis in St. Peter's Square with a heartfelt address on the unfolding tragedy after a severe earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday.

"Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists, and learning there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened," the Pope said.

Thanking "all volunteers and rescue personnel assisting these people," the Pope asked the people gathered in in Rome to join him in a prayer for the "brokenhearted," who suffered loss in the wake of the 6.2 magnitude quake that struck at 3:36 a.m. as most residents slept inside their homes.

"With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion," the Pope said.

"I cannot fail but to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those in those zones afflicted," he added, offering "condolences to those who have lost love ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid."