Families, friends gather at Paris cathedral to pray for crash victims


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PARIS (CNS) -- Families and friends of the 228 victims of Air France Flight 447 processed into Notre Dame Cathedral carrying candles in memory of those who lost their lives in the Atlantic Ocean. Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois led an interfaith gathering that included Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim officials.

The June 3 service was organized by the Archdiocese of Paris and Air France. Among those in attendance were French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former President Jacques Chirac. At a similar interfaith service at Candelaria Church in Rio de Janeiro June 4, Brazilians prayed for the victims during a June 4 interfaith service.

Rio's Auxiliary Bishop Antonio Dias Duarte and representatives of seven other religious denominations were at the service, which approximately 500 family members and friends of victims attended.

Earlier, Pope Benedict XVI sent his condolences and apostolic blessing to the families of passengers and all those affected when the flight, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, disappeared from the radar between the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha and Cape Verde Islands, off the African coast.

The plane was carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew members from 32 countries when Brazilian air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane at 10:30 p.m. May 31.