By Justin McLellan

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After dozens of people were killed and billions of dollars in damages were suffered due to a hurricane that hit Mexico’s Pacific coast, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and prayed that Christians would contribute, in a spirit of charity, to the reconstruction of affected areas.

The pope was “deeply saddened to learn of the natural disaster that is affecting the coasts of Guerrero” in southern Mexico, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, wrote in a telegram to Archbishop Leopoldo González González of Acapulco Oct. 27.

Pope Francis “offers fervent prayers for the eternal rest of the deceased, while asking the Lord to grant his consolation to those who suffer the devastating effects of the hurricane,” the cardinal wrote.

Hurricane Otis struck Acapulco, a coastal resort city with nearly 900,000 inhabitants, as a Category 5 storm Oct. 25 killing at least 27 people, the Mexican government said. At least four people remained missing as of Oct. 27.

The city is the largest in the Guerrero, the second poorest state in Mexico with an estimated 60% poverty rate, according to Statista, a data-gathering website.

Cardinal Parolin said that the pope prayed that “feelings of ardent charity may increase in the Christian community to collaborate in the reconstruction of the affected areas.”

“The Holy Father also wishes to express his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased,” the telegram said, “as well as his paternal solicitude and spiritual closeness to the wounded and victims among the beloved people of Acapulco, to whom he cordially imparts his comforting apostolic blessing as a sign of faith and hope in the risen Christ.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador traveled to Acapulco by road Oct. 25, later calling the hurricane “unprecedented in the country.” Authorities in the region focused their initial relief efforts on clearing mud throughout the city and restoring power.