Sendai (AsiaNews) - Mgr Martin Tetsuo Hiraga, Bishop of Sendai has published a message to all Japanese to comfort the victims and thank everyone for the help that the diocese is receiving from abroad. Sendai is the diocese hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami and includes the province of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the closest to the epicentre. The message is dated March 17, the same day a centre for survivors and aid coordination for volunteers was set up in the cathedral of Sendai.
Two days ago, the Catholic weekly published a special issue on the disaster. It was only published on line, given the enormous difficulties in printing and distribution.
On March 24, at the request of the President of the Episcopal Conference, the Japanese bishops will gather for an extraordinary emergency meeting to discuss and plan their response to the disaster.
Meanwhile, the emergency at the nuclear plant in Fukushima continues. Soldiers and fire-fighters are trying to cool the plants with tons of water piped from tanker trucks. At the same time, engineers working on the electricity grid to restart the reactor cooling system. A security officer said that the reconnection of electricity to the reactors 1 and 2 at the plant is expected later today.
Below the complete text of Msgr. Hiraga’s message:
My dear fellow Japanese people, I am Bishop Tetsuo Hiraga of Catholic Sendai Diocese. At this tragic moment of unprecedented catastrophe caused by the great earthquake and its subsequent tsunami that struck northeast shore areas of this country, we have received a number of heartfelt messages and cordial condolences, donations from all over the country and abroad. We thank you very much for your thoughts and prayers, and for your kind assistance.
As you know, vast areas on the northeast coast are affected and our diocesan chancery office is yet to grasp the full details of the damage. Along with unforeseeable development of the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, we will have much more information to come that may affect our life even more. To respond to the current adversities, we held a meeting with Caritas Japan president Bishop Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, members of Caritas Japan staff and Bishop Daiji Tani of Saitama, and decided to set up an emergency center to coordinate humanitarian aid operations in Sendai.
The center is called “Sendai Diocese Support Center” and is to do its best with the help of your prayers, encouragement and assistance. The center is also trying to give as much information and updates but, in its early stage of activities, it may fall short of your expectations. Please excuse us if this is the case.
Today’s Gospel reading includes a passage “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find”. We believe firmly in God who is love, even we have got stricken hard by this catastrophe. We are determined to do the best we can hand in hand, so that our relief activities for the people affected and suffering may witness the love of God.
Thank you very much.
Sendai, 17 March 2011