by NZ Catholic staff
Pope Francis has expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of a plane crash in the French Alps.
Vatican Radio reported Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, saying the Holy Father “joins in the grief of the families” of the victims, which include many children. Pope Francis also prayed for those who died “entrusting them to the mercy of God.”
In a telegram, the pontiff also expressed his “deep sympathy” for all those affected by the tragedy, including rescue workers who are carrying out their duties in difficult conditions.
The German A320 Airbus carrying 150 people came down in a remote, snow-covered mountainous region in the French Alps. There were no survivors.
At a press conference after the plane’s black box was recovered, it was revealed that the co-pilot of the Germanwings place seemed to have deliberately flown the the A320 into the French Alps.
French prosecutor Brice Robin said co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, was alone in the cockpit and had locked out the pilot.
Mr Lubitz refused to open the cockpit door to the pilot and deliberately began the plane’s descent, Mr Robin added.
Aboard the plane were 16 pupils of the Joseph-Koenig school in the German town of Haltern, who were returning home from an exchange trip. A memorial mass was held Tuesday for the victims and the local church remained opened all night for those wishing to mourn.
The leaders of Germany, France and Spain are due to visit the crash site.

Full text of the telegram for the air crash in France:
Having learned of the tragic plane crash in the region of Digne, which caused many casualties, including many children, His Holiness Pope Francis joins in the grief of the families, expressing his closeness to them in sorrow. He prays for peace for the deceased, entrusting them to the mercy of God that He might welcome them into His dwelling place of peace and light. He expresses his deep sympathy for all those touched by this tragedy, as well as for the rescue workers working in difficult conditions. The Holy Father asks the Lord to give strength and consolation to all, and, as a comfort, he invokes upon them the abundance of divine Blessings.

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