Pope prays for all mistreated youths after Guatemala blaze

Pope prays for all mistreated youths after Guatemala blaze

A faithful prays as Pope Francis delivers the Angelus prayer from his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, March 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.)

Pope Francis often uses his regularly scheduled appearances, as in his Sunday addresses to the crowds in St. Peter's Square, as opportunities for highlighting terrible things going on around the world. Today was no different when he offered prayers for victims of a fire in Guatemala who were also young victims of violence and exploitation.

ROME — Pope Francis has prayed for the 39 girls killed and others injured in the blaze that began in a Guatemalan youth shelter when mattresses were set alight in a protest by those living there.

Greeting the faithful in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Francis also prayed that God console the victims’ families.

He added that he was praying and asked others to do likewise “for all the girls and boys who are victims of violence, maltreatment, exploitation and war” in the world.

Francis said: “This is a plague, a hidden cry that must be listened to by all of us. We can’t continue to pretend not to see and not to hear it.”

The inferno on Wednesday has drawn attention to alleged failings in Guatemala’s child protective services.

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