AMERICA/PERU - The Pope's embrace to the flood victims of the Niño Costero

Saturday, 20 January 2018 development   solidarity   pope francis   pastoral visit   environment   refugees   displaced persons  

Trujillo (Peru) - "You had to face the brunt of ‘El Niño costero,’ whose painful consequences are still present in so many families, especially those who are not yet able to rebuild their homes. This is also why I wanted to be here and to pray with you". This is what Pope Francis said at the beach Mass celebrated on Saturday near the coastal city of Trujillo in northern Peru. He referred to the area which was badly hit by “El Niño costero”, a cyclical weather event in the Pacific Ocean that caused tremendous flooding and damage in December 2016 and May 2017, causing at least 141 deaths and material damage to over 600 thousand people. To overcome these and other harsh circumstances of life, the Holy Father suggested: "no better way exists than that of the Gospel: It is called Jesus Christ. Fill your lives always with the Gospel. I want to encourage you to be a community that lets itself be anointed by the Lord with the oil of the Spirit. He transforms, renews and strengthens everything". After the Mass, the Pope visited "Buenos Aires" neighborhood, one of the worst affected, where the local Caritas delivered 182 temporary prefabricated houses. This was possible thanks to the donations of "people of good will" and to the "hidden work" of the volunteers of the diocesan Caritas, as pointed out by Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos. The assistant director of Caritas Trujillo, Myrena Silva, told Agenzia Fides that as many as seven valleys in the area suffered violent muddy water on May 14th. On the coast of the Buenos Aires area, on the outskirts of the capital, a previous tsunami derived from the earthquake in Japan had erased the beach for good, and the banks built later to hold the sea actually caused the formation of a lake on the opposite side with the muddy liquid collapsed from the mountains, greatly aggravating the situation. "Many families have lost everything", says Silva. "The water dragged the furniture, clothes ... out of their house ... everything!" People quickly went out of their way to bring assistance: food and shelter to the victims, but this could not last forever, and so the Church, long before the State, intervened, especially in the most remote areas, "where no one had arrived". After "embracing" the flood victims, in Trujillo, the Holy Father visited the cathedral, he met priests, religious men and women and seminarians from the north of the Country and prayed to the beloved Madonna della Porta in de Armas square in the city centre. (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 20/01/2018)