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February 3, 2003


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Regarding Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy

It was with great sadness that I learned of the tragic explosion of the United States Columbia space shuttle on Saturday, February 1, in which seven astronauts perished. As soon as I learned of the tragedy, I began praying for the astronauts and for their grieving families and will continue to do so.

Catholics throughout the Archdiocese have also been offering prayers for the astronauts as well as for their families and members of the larger family of those who work for NASA. Prayer intentions were made at hundreds of Masses in Catholic churches throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia this weekend.

As we search for answers in this tragic event, I praise the strength and courage of these brave space explorers. They traveled beyond our earthly boundaries in an effort to achieve greater knowledge of our limitless universe. In doing so, the astronauts made the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives to a mission that sought to advance the greater good. We should all be grateful for their service to humanity.

I pray that the astronauts may rest in peace and that we may find comfort in knowing that our loving God has taken them into his embrace. I ask the faithful of the Archdiocese and all men and women of good will to continue to pray for the astronauts and for all those suffering as a result of this tragedy. May all who mourn find comfort in the love and mercy of God.


Catherine L. Rossi

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