Vatican City, (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram to Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba, for the traffic accident of 22 July which killed Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and winner of the 2002 Sakharov Prize, and Harold Cepero Escalante, youth leader of the Movement, and injured a number of others. The telegram was sent through Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, who was apostolic nuncio to Cuba between 2009 and 2011.
Having learned of the "tragic episode", the Pope asks Cardinal Ortega y Alamino to inform the victims' families of "his heartfelt condolences and spiritual closeness. At the same time he prays to the Lord that the injured may be restored to complete health".
The telegram continues: "The Holy Father likewise raises fervent prayers to God for the eternal repose of the deceased and asks Him to grant consolation and strength to those who, at this sad time, are weeping their irreparable loss. ... Invoking the protection of Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre, and as a pledge of copious divine favour at this time of suffering, the Holy Father affectionately imparts his apostolic blessing as a sign of faith and hope in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind".