Pope expresses closeness to world’s Muslims after haj stampede
Pope Francis arrives at the United Nations in New York, September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
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NEW YORK:  Pope Francis expressed “closeness” with the world’s Muslims on Thursday after more than 700 pilgrims were killed in a stampede outside the Islamic holy city of Mecca in the worst disaster to strike the annual haj pilgrimage in a quarter century.

Speaking during a packed evening prayer service at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Argentine pope said he wanted to express “my sentiments of closeness in the face of the tragedy that their people suffered today in Mecca.”

“In this moment of prayer, I unite myself with you all in prayer to God, our father, all powerful and merciful,” Francis added.

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