12/29/2004, 00.00
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Catholic Church expresses solidarity to the victims of the underwater quake

Bishops call for prayers for the victims and urge those who were themselves recent victims of typhoons and landslides to help quake survivors.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Despite the country's poverty and its natural disaster problems, the Filipino Catholic Church wants Filipinos to help the countries of south-east Asia.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mgr Gaudencio Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, said that "tragedy and human suffering transcend many barriers. All of a sudden India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have become special neighbours in need of us."

He further said: "These people now reach out to us in the manner that our own sufferings have, in the past, addressed others for understanding and help."

He called on the clergy to include the disaster victims as well as their surviving families in their prayers: "May they [survivors] find comfort and love in this moment of suffering".

The proceeds from a special collection on this Sunday will be set aside to help quake and tsunami victims.

In a separate statement, Archbishop Fernando Capalla, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, announced that the public could make contributions in favour of the affected countries to Catholic Charities of the Philippines (Caritas) or the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace of the Bishops' Conference.

"Although we have been hit badly by recent calamities," Archbishop Capalla said, "we Filipinos can still share something."

He also called on his compatriots to pray for the victims and their relatives that they "may find consolation in their faith and love in the midst of great trials and sufferings".

Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo formally extended her deepest sympathy and that of the government of the Philippine to the families of the victims.

She pledged to reciprocate international help given after massive landslides killed hundreds in northern Philippine areas earlier this month.

She said she would send a humanitarian contingent to the worst-hit areas in South Asia to help in rescue and relief efforts.

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, who also serves as chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said the council would form three medical teams comprising civilian doctors and nurses to be sent to Thailand and Indonesia where they would coordinate with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Filipino Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said he has been in close touch with his Thai counterpart. His department is is preparing another medical team to be sent to affected areas of the Asian country.

Words of encouragement have also been coming from leaders of other Filipino Christian Churches.

The Philippines have to endure loss of lives (more than 1,800 dead and missing) and property brought about by four tropical storms in the past two months.

Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Infanta prelature, the ecclesiastical territory hit hardest by typhoon Nanmadol, expressed his sorrow for the victims and will pray for the dead and their families, hoping that they will "receive the same generosity afforded to Filipinos".

"It's very tragic," Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Kalookan said. "The only way we can express our solidarity with them is to say that during this Christmas season, when we celebrate as a family, we can tell them that we are one with them. As members of a family, we feel their pain."

Citing government sources, Filipino media report that a Filipina was missing and four Filipinos injured and confined at Vichar Hospital and Patong Hospital in Phuket, Thailand.

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See also
Catholic aid in Asia going to quake victims
People united by tragedy
New Year celebrations cancelled in Jakarta
Growing unemployment in the Philippines, also due to corruption and waste
As the sea returns the dead it claimed, reconstruction becomes urgent in Tamil Nadu


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