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Friday, October 7, 2011

CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO EMERGENCY IN THE HORN OF AFRICA

VATICAN CITY, 7 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "The Catholic Church will continue to do her part and to seek collaboration with other Christian communities in order to play an active role in resolving the current humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa". These words were pronounced by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", during the course of a press conference held this morning in the Holy See Press Office. The cardinal went on to explain that today's meeting "is a response to the Pope's desire to bear witness to the charity of Christ and of the Church towards those who suffer. Wherever man suffers, God is close by", he said.

The press conference served to present a number of initiatives being implemented by the Catholic Church to alleviate the catastrophic consequences of drought, hunger and armed conflict in the Horn of Africa. Cardinal Sarah recalled how the situation is one of the main concerns of Benedict XVI who has made various appeals to the international community to help suffering people, most recently during his general audience on Wednesday. Moreover, the Holy Father is supporting efforts made by local Churches in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, donating 400,000 dollars for preliminary assistance to victims, while special collections have been made at parishes in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France and Ireland.

The Catholic Church is also collaborating with the Anglican Church to face the emergency. This, said the president of "Cor Unum", is "significant testimony of the charity which unites us. ... Our efforts speak of the vitality which the faith can produce and which finds expression in these fruits of sharing, love, compassion, concern for others, and help and promotion of human beings of whatever race or religion. These actions are a consequence of our faith which becomes operative in love".

Cardinal Sarah reiterated the Holy Father's appeal to the international community. "Unfortunately", he said, "it is often clear that the mechanisms governing international activities are dictated by pursuit of the interests of individual nations. Selfish considerations prevail even in international politics. We must allow ourselves to be inspired, implementing policies which are truly aimed at the common good. Only the search for the common good can ensure that there are no winners or losers, murderers or victims, exploiters or exploited. What must prevail is a vision of man and society in which economic value is granted the recognition it deserves, but not given the final word on good and evil".

A school in each village

Cardinal Sarah explained that in the current crisis "the millions of displaced persons who are currently wandering in an attempt to survive, will become tomorrow's refugees, illegal migrants, stateless persons, people without a home, job or community. An entire generation risks being lost". For this reason, he said, "once this emergency has passed we must seek to provide formation" because education is the motor of development. "Where there is a school, where there is education, there is the possibility of a future where tomorrow there will be work, and families can be created. ... I would like to make an appeal for a school in each village".

Sharing the podium with Cardinal Sarah at today's press conference were Bishop Giorgio Bertin O.F.M., apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Mogadishu, Somalia; Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis; Kenneth Hackett, executive director of Catholic Relief Services; David Pain, director of Christian Aid's Africa Division, and representatives of Catholic Charity organisations.

David Pain, as envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, read out a message from the primate of the Anglican Communion. "In the face of those who hunger and thirst we discover the face of Christ", the text reads. "It must be with renewed passion and commitment that we seek effective and enduring responses to end the intolerable scandal of recurring famine in our world". The Archbishop of Canterbury likewise expresses the hope that the meeting will serve to create new opportunities for ecumenical collaboration.
OP/ VIS 20111007 (680)

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