Rome (AsiaNews) - The disaster caused by the Great Earthquake that struck Japan in March 2011 "also had a positive effect. It rekindled solidarity and respect for nature in our fellow citizens, and has allowed civil society to get to know the Catholic Church a little better through the work of Caritas". This is according to the national executive director of the Catholic charity in Japan, Fr. Takeshi Seto, who is in Rome for the XX General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis.
The earthquake struck the country on 11 March 2011, causing a tsunami that devastated coastal areas of Sendai. To date, 15,703 people are officially confirmed dead, 5,314 wounded and 4,647 missing. Five days after the tsunami, Fr. Seto says " the Sendai Diocese Support Center (SDSC), was born coordinated by Caritas Japan and supported by all the dioceses in the country. Four years on, the center is still active in many areas. The Church has over 100 volunteers active in housing reconstruction and in psychological and spiritual support to victims".
In an attempt to rebuild communities, 'tea houses' have also been born: "They are hangouts, especially for the elderly, built in the places that are still affected by the tsunami damage. Here we try to keep people company, to create small community centers, so as to stave off feelings such as loneliness and pain for what happened. It was a huge tragedy, which created wounds that are difficult to heal. "
Yet, despite everything "there is a spark of hope from all this. Immediately after the disaster, Caritas was among the first to take the field to help the survivors. And the Japanese civil society has noted this favorably. We got to show the reality of the Catholic Church a little more in a country where the proclamation of the Gospel is still difficult. We hope to move forward on this path with hope. "