Catholics bring help and raise funds for victims. Church authorities and volunteers deploy great efforts. The series of quakes, followed by a tsunami, left 1,411 people dead, more than a hundred missing, and 2,500 injured, including 799 in serious conditions. Pope Francis donates US$ 100,000.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Catholics in the dioceses of Manado, Semarang, Jakarta, Pontianak and Malang have taken steps to raise funds to help the victims of the ongoing humanitarian disaster that struck the island of Sulawesi.
Involved on the grounds since the start of relief operations, the Indonesian Church has called for "compassion and solidarity". Pope Francis has made a personal donation in favour of survivors.
Starting on 29 September, a series of devastating earthquakes, followed by a tsunami, devastated the cities of Palu and Donggala (Central Sulawesi), killing 1,411 people. More than a hundred people are still missing with another 2,500 injured, 799 in serious condition.
Some 65,733 homes have collapsed and 61,867 displaced people are now housed in 109 reception centres set up after the disaster.
Indonesian authorities have not yet been able to come up with a final death toll for the village of Petobo (Siri Biromaru district) and Balaroa district (south of Palu), where some 2,400 homes collapsed or were swept away by landslides.
The province of Central Sulawesi, the epicentre of the emergency, is located in the territory of the diocese of Manado (North Sulawesi).
The local bishop, Mgr Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu, was the first to release a video message (video 1) to urge Catholics to help survivors.
"It is necessary to help them and put into practice our spirit of compassion and social solidarity", said the prelate in the video.
Mgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, archbishop of Semarang (Central Java), stressed that "at times like this, we have a moral obligation to extend our spirit of solidarity to those in need".
In a tape titled "Compassion for Palu and Donggala" (video 2), Mgr Rubiyatmoko notes that it is possible to make a donation at every institution of the archdiocese. The money raised will be given to Caritas in Semarang (Karina Kas), which has been authorised by the archbishop to collect and hand out the funds.
In a press release, Mgr Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta, also announced a fundraiser.
The Archbishop of Pontianak (West Kalimantan), Mgr Agustinus Agus, stated that the offerings collected during the Sunday services will be sent to Central Sulawesi. He also said that his diocese would make its bank accounts available.
Mgr Henricus Pidyarto Gunawan, bishop of Malang (East Java), told AsiaNews that some volunteers left the diocese for Palu, to help in the rescue effort. The volunteers include the staff of Caritas Indonesia (Karina Kwi).
Fr Banu Kurnianto, executive director of the main charity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI), is on his way to the disaster area.
"Our staff, from Makassar (South Sulawesi), is already on the grounds to carry out some evaluations (pictures 2, 3), to determine what kind of emergency measures we will adopt," he said.
Numerous charities and Bishops’ Conferences around the world are helping as well. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development today announced that Pope Francis made a personal contribution of US$ 100,000.
"This sum is intended to be an immediate expression of the feeling of spiritual closeness and fatherly encouragement from the Holy Father towards the people and territories affected," the Dicastery said in a press release.
AsiaNews supports the fund-raising efforts by the Diocese of Manado. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so at:
Bank account number: 3873 77 777 5
Beneficiary name: Keuskupan Manado
Bank: Bank BNI
Swift Code: BNINIDJAMDO