Burma: papal envoy visits disaster area

 Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, The Apostolic Delegate to Myanmar (Burma) visited Yangon and the areas affected by Cyclone Nargis on Thursday and offered Mass at 11am for the victims at St Mary's Cathedral in Yangon, together with Archbishop Charles Bo and Auxiliary Bishop Justin of the Yangon Archdiocese, Bishop Raymond Pa Ray of Mawlamyine Diocese, Bishop Philip Za Hawng of Lashio Diocese and Bishop Emiritus Mahn Erie of Pathein Diocese. The Mass was also concelebrated by 56 priests, in the presence of 100 religious men and women and around 1000 faithful. Before the penitential rite, Apostolate Delegate read the Message of the Holy Father to the congregation. In his homily, Archbishop Pennacchio conveyed the Holy Father's sympathy, solidarity and prayers for the victims of Cyclone Nargis and the people of Myanmar, encouraging all to be hopeful and assuring them of his prayers and of humanitarian support. He encouraged them to put their trust in God - the best hope of all - as the only valid response to human pain and suffering is Christ, who wishes to penetrate the soul of every suffering person through the heart of his holy Mother, Mary. Before the end of the Mass, Archbishop Charles Bo, on behalf of the congregation and the people of Myanmar, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Holy Father for his message of sympathy and solidarity for the people of Myanmar and for his concrete gesture of love and compassion in the person of His Grace Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Delegate to Myanmar, whom he also thanked as well for coming to Myanmar as representative of the Holy Father and giving the message of consolation and hope, in offering the Holy Mass for the victims and people of Myanmar and by visiting some affected parishes and areas in the devastated region. The Archbishop also mentioned that the losses claimed by Cyclone Nargis are enormous with the death toll ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 and hundreds of thousands of people missing, including AT LEAST one priest and one nun. Over 15 villages like Laputta in Delta region have literally disappeared. Many Catholic villages were also seriously damaged. A great city of Yangon has turned into dry zone and become bare with 70% of trees in the city was uprooted. All the Churches, clergy houses and convents somehow shared the disaster. The Apostolic Delegate, after the Mass, visited the affected areas and particularly Twante parish church situated in one of the worst damaged regions witnessing hundred of families displaced and homeless. The Church in Myanmar is appealing to different international agencies and organizations for coordinated support and urgent assistance for the suffering people of Myanmar. Myanmar Disaster Relief Committee, under the leadership of Yangon Archdiocese, is working its best to implement concrete assistance programs to 60,000 families through the distribution of one week's worth of dry ration and water, purification of water, and the distribution of basic necessities and medicine in eight of the most devastated areas. Source: Fides

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