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Pope Francis expressed his “closeness” to the people of Glasgow after Friday evening’s helicopter crash in the city centre and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia offered a special Mass on Saturday for those who have been involved in the tragedy.
So far nine people have been confirmed dead including the pilot of the police helicopter, David Traill, and two officers travelling in it, Kirsty Nelis and Tony Collins. The other six died when the ceiling of the Clutha Vaults pub they were drinking in caved in. The death toll is expected to rise to double figures as search efforts continue.
The Pope’s representative to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, sent a message to Archbishop Tartaglia, saying: “Having learned the sad news of the tragic accident which occurred in Glasgow when a police helicopter crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub, close to the cathedral, causing the death of several people and numerous injured, I would like hereby to convey to you, as Archbishop of Glasgow, the closeness of the Holy Father as well as my most sincere sympathy in these difficult moments.”
He added: “I assure you of my prayers for those who have tragically lost their lives or have been injured as well as their relatives. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who have died and comfort their relatives and the entire community of Glasgow in these moments of distress and sadness.”
St Andrew’s Catholic Cathedral is 400m from the crash site and on Friday evening priests from the Cathedral parish were on hand during the rescue to offer assistance to the injured and relatives.
Archbishop Tartaglia offered a special Mass on Saturday afternoon – St Andrew's Day – at the cathedral.
"I was distressed by the news of [the helicopter crash],” the archbishop said before the Mass. “My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragic accident. Prayers will be offered for everyone, especially for those who have died, for the injured, and for the bereaved. May the gentle presence of Jesus comfort us all at this difficult time. Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland, pray for us.”
The archdiocese published a “Prayer for Suffering Glasgow”:
Lord we ask you to bring strength to those still waiting to hear news of their loved ones, we give thanks to those who work in the Police, Fire and Ambulance Services who have worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to search for and rescue, to care for console and heal those caught up in the tragedy of the Clutha Vaults.
Give comfort to those who have been bereaved...
Lord, someone we have loved has been taken from us,
Someone precious, irreplaceable.
And we know that there are no words we can say at this moment
to express what we are feeling,
No words that can alleviate the sorrow
Or take away the pain.
So we come simply to bring you our grief, the shock and the pain,
The emptiness, the anger and the despair,
The loneliness, the fear and the uncertainty
Which at times still overwhelms us.
We come bringing those honestly before you,
And asking for strength in the times of darkness.
Hold on to us,
Even when we find it hard to hold on to you.
Be very near,
Even when we feel you to be very far away.
Support us in the weeks and months and yes even the years ahead.
Grant us your comfort, as you have promised
Until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes,
And the busy world is hushed,
And the fever of life is over,
And our work is done.
Then in your mercy,
Grant us a safe lodging,
And a holy rest,
And peace at last and forever.