Japan: church mobilises support for earthquake, tsunami victims

The Catholic Church in Japan is rushing to support victims of earthquake and tsunami  with prayer,  solidarity and practical aid. Bishop Marcellinus Daiji Tani from the Diocese of Saitama, one of the dioceses most affected by the earthquake, said:  “The greatest damage was reported in Sendai, but my own Diocese of Saitama, a little to the south was also affected, fortunately without human losses. Of particular concern to us is the situation of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. But we must take courage, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow, at Sunday Masses throughout the country, we will remember the victims, the wounded and the displaced. As a Christian community, we are ready with prayer and solidarity.”

The Bishop said:  “This sad event reminds us that life is in the hands of God and that life is a gift from God. It will be a challenge for all of us to practice and witness to the commandment of love and brotherly love, in this time of Lent.”

A campaign of solidarity for the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami that struck the north of Japan will commence tomorrow, 13 March, by Caritas Japan in all Japanese churches. The initiative also takes in Catholic schools, associations and institutions, with the intention of raising funds to help the displaced.

Fr Daisuke Narui, Executive Director from Caritas Japan said:  “Our work is to show love and solidarity especially to the people most vulnerable, such as the elderly, migrants and homeless. We are working with NGOs. Currently we are called to give a testimony to unity and closeness to all human suffering. We already know that the response by the faithful to our appeal will be very generous.”

Fr Nairi told Fides: “It is a terrible disaster, one of the worst in the country's history. In the northern area, most affected, there are already more than 1,000 recorded deaths, hundreds of casualties and internally displaced persons.”

Caritas mobilised straight after the tragedy: “Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami, we held an emergency meeting by teleconference. The priority now is to gather information from affected areas, but it is difficult because telephone and power lines are still down. The diocese most affected is that of Sendai, but we have not received any reports from the Director of the diocesan Caritas, and this is of great concern. For this reason we are assessing the possibility of an impromptu mission there,” said Fr Naru.

Reflecting on the aftermath of the drama, the priest explains: “I believe in Japan currently, marked by the economic crisis, struck by the social phenomenon of depression and suicide, this painful event may be an opportunity to spread the values of the Gospel, that is, the fraternity of all men and women, the building of common good, the recognition that every person has the dignity of a child of God and is important in the eyes of God. If, with our work and our witness, we can communicate that, then from this evil will come good.”

Source: Fides

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