04/09/2009, 00.00
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Card. Gracias: the Church in India prays for the beloved people of L’Aquila

by Card. Oswald Gracias
Message of solidarity from the Indian bishops Conference. Card. Gracias has visited L’Aquila in the past and vividly the city and its people. Tomorrow Italy will mark a day of national mourning. The death toll rises to 275.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Card. Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Indian Bishops Conference has sent a message to AsiaNews of solidarity for all those affected by the tragic earthquake in Abruzzo.  Card. Gracias, in his student days in Italy, visited L’Aquila and recalls the “warmth and vivacity” of the people there in this time of “crisis and suffering”.  The prelate prays so that “the new life of Easter” is a “source of hope and encouragement” in reconstruction.

Meanwhile rescue workers continue to dig beneath the rubble in search of survivors.  The search will continue until April 12th. Last night, despite continued aftershocks, rescue operations pushed ahead, recovering the bodies of two young students.  The latest toll of identified victims now stands at 275.  Tomorrow, Good Friday, the funeral will be held for the victims and Italy will observe a day of national mourning.

It is a matter of immense sorrow that L’Aquila has been struck by an earthquake; the Church in India sends her condolences to the Bishop of L’Aquila and to the people who have been affected.

I entrust those victims who perished in this terrible calamity to the infinite mercy of our Loving Father and I implore divine consolation for the injured and those who suffer and the homeless.The Church in India prays for the victims that our compassionate Father gives them strength in these times of suffering and crises.

Our prayers are also for all engaged in the relief efforts, upon whom  I invoke the divine gifts of wisdom and strength. At such moments they need courage organisational skills and motivation to help these people, our solidarity is with the relief workers and the Caritas aid personnel.  The Church in India is willing to help with whatever assistance may be required for this humanitarian emergency.

We are in the most Holy Week of the Liturgical Calendar and as we reflect on the Passion of our Lord, our thoughts are with the people of L’Aquila who are now going through the Passion, my prayers are that they may unite their own suffering to the suffering of our beloved master Jesus Christ, I would like to infuse Hope in them, that their own personal Way of the Cross will lead them to the Resurrection.

In the Christian ethos, defeat and suffering can only be temporary for those who are with the Lord, so my dear people of L’Aquila do not give up Hope, and to each of those people who are affected, who have been left homeless, injured and those who have lost their loved ones, God is with them, God is guiding the relief and rehabilitation efforts and God will lead them to the future of the resurrection.

For me this was a personal tragedy, nearly 25 years ago, I visited a parish in L’Aquila just about a 100 kms north-east of Rome-when I was studying in Rome- along with a few of my priest companions.  The vibrancy and warmth of the parishioners was remarkable, after a beautiful Eucharist, the people felicitated us and later which we enjoyed a communitarian agape.  It saddens me to think, that some of those wonderful people may now be victims of the earthquake, people who welcomed us may be hurt and their houses which radiated with happiness are now in sadness. 

I have special affection and memories of L’Aquila and my prayers and expression of solidarity are with those dear parishioners.  I am praying for them everyday since the earthquake and my prayers will accompany them and that the new life of Easter may be a source of encouragement, perseverance and hope for each and all in the great task of rebuilding which lies ahead.

 (With the collaboration of Nirmala Carvalho)


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