- (Photo: AP Photo / Mel Evans)
Millions of mourners in the predominantly Catholic nation of Poland packed into churches Sunday to pray for victims of Saturday’s high-profile plane crash, which took the lives of Poland President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Saturday his nation was also going through pain and praying alongside Poland, whose president was heading out Saturday to Russia to observe the 70th anniversary of the execution of more than 20,000 Polish officers during World War II.
"This is not only a Polish tragedy and a tragedy for the Polish nation, but it is also our tragedy," Putin said. "We feel a great pain together with you and we live through it in the same way as you ... We pray along with you."
Among the dead from Saturday's survivor-less crash were Poland's army chief of staff, the navy chief commander, and heads of the air and land forces. Also on the plane was Army chaplain and Bishop Tadeusz Plozki, Orthodox Archbishop Miron Chodakowski and Evangelical military pastor Adam Pilsch.
In comments made after the crash, Pope Benedict XVI said he entrusted all of the victims of the crash "to the goodness of merciful God" and prayed, "May He take them into his glory.”
"In this difficult moment, I implore for all the people of Poland a special blessing of God omnipotent," he concluded.
According to reports, the acting president, Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, said he would call for early elections within 14 days, in line with the constitution.
The vote must be held within another 60 days.