National News

Baltimore Archbishop Calls for Prayers After Bridge Collapse

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hovers over the Dali cargo vessel March 26, 2024, after it crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing it to collapse. Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and city officials have called for prayers as rescue efforts continue. (Photo: OSV News/Julia Nikhinson, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — In response to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore March 26, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori urged people to “join in prayer asking the Lord to grant consolation and strength as we cope with this terrible tragedy.” 

“I am saddened, as you are, to learn of the tragic incident overnight that led to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Baltimore harbor,” he said in a statement. “Pray with me for all involved, especially the victims traveling over the span at the time of impact, the construction crews on site and all of the first responders acting with urgency to rescue survivors.”

The archbishop planned to celebrate Mass March 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore to pray for those impacted by the bridge collapse. The Mass will be livestreamed at

The 1.6-mile steel bridge collapsed about 1:20 in the morning after a support column was struck by a container ship, knocking at least seven cars into the Patapsco River.

According to The Associated Press, the 985-foot ship, named The Dali, was headed from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and flying under a Singapore flag, chartered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk.

A statement from the ship’s owners said the cause of the incident has not yet been determined. Two pilots were aboard the ship with a crew of 22 who are all safe and accounted for after the crash.

A search and rescue operation began immediately, and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore declared a state of emergency.  Authorities said a crew was working on the bridge at the time of the collapse.

In a morning news conference, Baltimore Fire Department Chief James Wallace said authorities were still involved in a search and rescue effort looking for at least seven people. He added that there was no indication that the event was intentional. 

At least two people had been rescued from the cold water and one was hospitalized in serious condition, fire officials said.

The Catholic Review, archdiocesan newspaper of Baltimore, noted that the archdiocesan Apostleship of the Sea, part of a Catholic ministry which offers hospitality and pastoral care to the seafarers, fishers and their families, had already reached out to the ship’s crew in the past few days, delivering Easter boxes to crew members while the ship was at the Seagirt Marine terminal.

Andy Middleton, the group’s director, said the ship’s crew, mostly from India, was headed on a 28-day trip to Sri Lanka, taking a longer route to avoid the unrest in the Middle East. He said volunteer members of the Apostleship of the Sea had helped several members of the crew shop for supplies and provided a place for them to relax.

Middleton said he reached out to his contact on the ship shortly after the collision, who assured them that the crew was all safe and didn’t need anything.

“When they do make it back to a berth, we will be ready to assist them in any way we can,” he said. He also noted that the group planned to minister to the crews of the seven ships currently in the port that might be marooned there for quite a while.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge opened in March 1977 after five years of construction and cost an estimated $110 million, according to the Baltimore Sun. The bridge, named for the Maryland writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is one of the Baltimore harbor’s three toll crossings.

It carried more than 12.4 million commercial and passenger vehicles in 2023 — about 34,000 vehicles a day — a state report said.