A whirlpool is seen near Oarai, Japan, March 11. A magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit northeastern Japan in the afternoon, triggering strong aftershocks and tsunamis along the coastline. — CNS photo
Catholic leaders and aid organizations are asking prayers and donations to assist the Japanese people after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and 33-foot tsunami hit the Pacific island nation March 11. Thousands have died and millions have been left without food, water or power.
“May the bereaved and injured be comforted and may the rescue workers be strengthened in their efforts to assist the courageous Japanese people,” said Pope Benedict XVI in his March 13 Angelus address at St. Peter’s Square.
“I want to renew my spiritual closeness to that country’s dear people, who with dignity and courage are dealing with the consequences of the calamity,” he continued. “I pray for the victims and their families and for all who are suffering because of these terrible events. I encourage all those who, with laudable speed, are working to bring help. Let us remain united in prayer.”
At the same time, Catholic organizations like Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ international aid agency, is soliciting funds to assist the victims through their short-term and long-term recovery. The group is working in conjunction with Caritas Japan, the humanitarian organization of the Japanese Catholic Conference. The director of Caritas Japan told the Catholic missionary new agency Fides that “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.”
Donations to CRS may be made online at crs.org. For further information, call CRS at 888-277-7575.