The Holy Father sent the following telegram to Bishop James Vann Johnston of the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri in the wake of the destruction of a large portion of Joplin from the recent tornado.
The Holy Father has followed with deep concern the aftermath of the catastrophic tornado which struck Joplin on Sunday and he asks you to convey to the entire community the assurance of his closeness in prayer. Conscious of the tragic loss of life and the immensity of the work of rebuilding that lies ahead, he asks God the Father of mercies to grant eternal rest to the departed, consolation to the grieving, and strength and hope to the homeless and the injured. Upon the local civil and religious leaders, and upon all involved in the relief efforts, his Holiness invokes the divine gifts of wisdom, fortitude, and perseverance in every good.
As an aside, a tornado also struck here in La Crosse, Wisconsin at the same time one marched through Joplin. Luckily, the hospital in which I work was largely undamaged, although just a couple of blocks from us over 200 homes were damaged or destroyed. This was supposedly the first ever recorded tornado in La Crosse, which sits nestled in the Mississippi river valley and to now seemingly immune to tornados that do strike periodically “up on the bluffs” as we say here.