How the extreme cold is affecting lives in Europe

This past Sunday Pope Francis has asked the world to pray for an "urgent" prayer intention. He said, "That in these days of such great cold that we think of all the people living on the streets, affected by the cold and by the indifference of others. We pray for them and ask the Lord to warm the hearts of others to help them."

While Pope Francis' intention was spoken in general terms, it is likely that he was prompted by current situations in Europe and the extreme weather that is taking the lives of many homeless on the streets.

According to ABC News, "Two men died of cold in Poland on Saturday, bringing the nation's death toll from winter weather to 55 since Nov. 1, authorities said Sunday. Temperatures dropped to minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) in the mountains of southern Poland.

"In Italy, eight deaths were blamed on the cold, including a man who died in the basement of an unused building in Milan, and another one on a street flanking Florence's Arno River.

"In Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, several hundred men, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, remained in an abandoned customs warehouse by the city's bus station, where aid organizations distributed heaters, blankets, clothes and food in an attempt to keep them warm.

"In Bulgaria, police said two men from Iraq and a Somali woman died from cold in the mountains near Turkey as they tried to make their way toward Europe. Many in the Belgrade warehouse were sick after few days in extreme cold, aid workers said.

"German federal police said Sunday they picked up 19 migrants — including five children — at a highway stop in Bavaria who were suffering from hypothermia after their driver disappeared and left them on the back of an unheated a truck for hours in the freezing cold."

Pope Francis reminds us that we who are not affected by the cold must not forget the many who are suffering and who have no place to go. Let us pray for them and pray for the warming of hearts of officials who have the power to help those in need.