After the horror, aid arrives

On the middle of the day after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, relief efforts are swinging into actions. Among them the Catholic Caritas Internationalis, which has issued a call for donations for relief in the disaster zone. Go here to see how you can donate.

Most of the aid by Catholic charities will initially be organised from outside the disaster area. The Dioceses of Sendai, Saitama and Niigata, which were affected most, still struggle to restore communications and establish contact with parishes, offices and people. Yasufumi Matsukuma, working for the Japanese bishops’ conference, said, “In Tokyo, telephone lines are so busy that I cannot contact diocesan chancellor offices in Japan. Aftershocks have followed. The tsunamis are terrible and we cannot get any information concerning the church yet” (via UCA News and Catholic News Service).

Bishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Niigata and president of Caritas Japan, said that, although the Catholic community is very small, “we will not walk away from our commitment and our solidarity with the victims.”

As for Caritas’s activities at the moment, Fr. Bonnie Mendes of Caritas Asia, has said, “We are in constant contact with the Caritas Japan, which is monitoring the situation, the damage and the victims. We hope that there are not too many casualties. We expect to have a better understanding of the situation of displaced persons and their need to plan an emergency intervention.”

Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS

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Pray for Japan

“Certainly, there is an esprit among the people, indeed, all Japanese are required to participate in [earthquake] drills. The Church, too, does her part, and feels herself called to do all she can.”

“[The] organisation worked well. One truly feels what one is before nature and before the Lord, and we thank the Lord that Japan took steps to prepare.”

Words from Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, the Nuncio to Japan, on a day that saw devastation brought to the north of that country. The Diocese of Sendai, which covers the northern tip of Honshu and the northwestern Pacific coast, has been hit hard. I’ll keep an eye out from news from that home of some 11,000 Catholics.

In the mean time, let’s pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Japan, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Peter Baptist, patrons of Japan, for the safety of all affected by the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. May that prayer also extend to all on the shores and islands of the Pacific Ocean, still awaiting the arrival of the flood.

Photo credit: Kyodo News, via Associated Press