ASIA/JAPAN - The Bishop of Sendai: “Thank you” to the Pope and the Universal Church for assistance to displaced people

Sendai (Agenzia Fides) – Solidarity and support continues to rise for the Church and people in Japan, struck by the earthquake and tsunami: “The aid will help us to rise again after this tragedy,” says Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai, expressing his consolation despite the difficult situation at present. The Holy See has announced that it will donate the collect from the Mass 'In Coena Domini' to be celebrated by the Holy Father on Holy Thursday, 21 April, to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Meanwhile, many local Churches, Christian organisations and religious congregations from around the world have been able to establish a direct channel with Caritas Japan. The initiative by the Holy See for Holy Thursday, said the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' to Fides, intends to have paradigmatic value and encourage other Churches around the world to follow their example, given the emergency in Japan.
Archbishop Hiraga expresses to Fides the sentiments of the local community: “We give heartfelt thanks to the Holy Father for this latest sign of attention given to the Japanese people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. We happily accept this gift. The Church and Caritas Japan are doing a lot to help the victims. Just now, the first 150,000 dollars of contributions sent by the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' have arrived for the Diocese of Sendai, the hardest hit. This money will be used to help people in need to repair churches and to rebuild homes.”
The Bishop continues: “The affection and closeness of the Pope are strongly felt, but also the Universal Church, which is showing a great burst of solidarity. We receive messages from people, groups and dioceses from all continents, who want to help. All this makes us feel that the Lord will not abandon us in this difficulty and in this terrible suffering. This aid will help us to rise again. We need prayers and gestures of encouragement.”
Meanwhile in Sendai the “Centre of Solidarity” Institute of Caritas Japan is working full-time, counting on about 80 volunteers on the ground, separated into four “border points” scattered throughout the territory, close to the affected areas. From there, in coordination with the civil authorities of the various municipalities, volunteers carry out their support service, especially for the elderly, of whom there are many in the territory, whose homes were devastated by the tsunami. It is expected that it will take about a month for the young volunteers to clean the homes from mud and make them habitable again. Then they will further evaluate needs, especially for the homeless. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 6/4/2011)

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