Oceania’s Catholic bishops call for more aid in Turkey and Syria

Catholic bishops

Following last week’s deadly earthquakes, New Zealand’s Catholic bishops joined with all Oceania’s Catholic bishops in sending Church and civic leaders in Turkey and Syria a united message of condolence.

“Our hearts break at the death and destruction we are seeing on our television screens and in our newspapers,” they wrote last week during the assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania in Fiji.

“We know that God is close to those that suffer. We pray that your people sense the love and care of their brothers and sisters around the world, including from Oceania.

“One of the key themes of our Federation … is the connectedness of human suffering and the suffering of our world. We have seen in your countries how natural disasters can wreak such pain and anguish, with thousands of lives lost.

“The Catholic Church has established appeals to raise funds to support the ongoing efforts for rescue and recovery, and we will encourage the faithful in our region to respond generously.

“The Church is also providing human resources on the ground to respond to immediate needs through our aid agencies.

“Be assured of our ongoing prayers and our attention as your people recover from this tragedy.”

The huge earthquakes have killed tens of thousands, and destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure throughout Turkey and Syria. Urgent and ongoing humanitarian aid is needed.

One minute worse than 12 years of war

“Less than one minute was worse than 12 years of war,” says a survivor from Syria.

Even though Syria has been at war for almost 12 years, for many people in Aleppo and in other cities that were affected, the devastating earthquake of 6 February was more traumatic.

“If you ask the people of Aleppo about the war they lived through, they express their feelings of pain, fear, despair about the future, loss of safety, etc. They use many different expressions to express the 12-year war.

“But if you ask them about the earthquake that they were exposed to, the answer is just one word: horror”, says a Catholic religious sister who lives and works in Aleppo.

Catholic aid

  • The main Catholic hospital of St Louis in Aleppo withstood the quakes and has been helping survivors.
  • Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) says it will be providing at least half a million Euros of immediate aid to Christians in Syria.
  • Among the Catholic organisations working on the ground in Syria providing relief are Franciscans in Lattakia, the Armenian Orthodox in Aleppo, the Institute of the Incarnate Word and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
  • Many Catholic churches are providing shelter for the homeless.
  • The Syrian Synod of Catholic bishops has assembled a team of engineers to assess and price the damage to Christian families’ houses. ACN says it hopes to be able to help with this.


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