The pope received some devastating news when he returned to the Vatican from his five-day trip to South Korea. Three relatives of Pope Francis were killed in a car crash early Tuesday morning in Argentina. The vehicle reportedly driven by the pontiff's nephew slammed into the back of a truck, fatally wounding Francis' niece-in-law and her two young children. Francis' nephew survived, but remains in serious condition.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Francis was "deeply pained" when he heard about the deaths of his family members. He released this message through Lombardi:
The pope has been informed and he is profoundly saddened. He asks all those who share in his grief to join him in prayer.
According to Reuters, Francis' family was driving on a highway in the central Argentine province of Cordoba when the accident occurred. A hospital official told reporters that the pope's nephew, 35-year-old Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, and his 2-year-old child were pulled from the accident alive. His child later died at the hospital, but Bergoglio is currently "breathing with the help of a respirator." His wife, 36-year-old Carmona Valeria, and 8-month-old child died at the scene.
Emanuel Bergoglio is the son of Francis' late brother, Alberto Bergoglio, who died in 2010. Francis only has one living sibling, his sister, María Elena. He also has a nephew who's a Jesuit priest.
Francis has just completed a landmark trip to South Korea, where he spoke to thousands of Catholic youth, beatified more than 120 South Korean martyrs and visited numerous religious leaders and lay people. During a press conference held on the flight back to the Vatican, Francis talked at length about South Korea's history of suffering and the greater injustices of the world, leaving the people with this message:
The Korean people have not lost their dignity. [The Korean people] have been invaded, humiliated, suffered wars, and [are] now divided with much suffering. ... Today, we are in a world at war – everywhere! It is a world at war where these cruelties are carried out. ... Today, torture is one of the most – I’d say – ordinary methods of behavior of the intelligence services, of judicial process. And torture is a sin against humanity; it is a crime against humanity. And to Catholics, I say: to torture a person is a mortal sin; it is a grave sin.
The pontiff also expressed his desire to travel to Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C., in 2015 — marking his first papal visit to the United States.
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