U.S. Catholics urged to aid, pray for quake victims in Turkey, Syria

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Reacting to “heartbreaking scenes” of death and destruction in Turkey and Syria, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ international policy committee urged U.S. Catholics and all people of goodwill to pray for the victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the two countries Feb. 6 and to give generously to those in need.

According to The Associated Press Feb. 12, the death toll had risen more than 33,000.

Rescuers carry an earthquake victim on the rubble in Jandaris, Syria, Feb. 7, 2023. A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked areas of Turkey and Syria early Feb. 6, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing tens of thousands. (OSV News photo/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

“I join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in praying for the souls of the departed as we mourn the loss of so many lives,” Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in a Feb. 8 statement.

“We pray for those injured and the many others suffering, and we also pray for the safety and protection of emergency personnel working to save lives and tending to those in need in the wake of this disaster,” he said.

Rescue workers were still “trying to free people from rubble and those alive are facing freezing conditions as they try to salvage their belongings and seek shelter,” Bishop Malloy said. “In a region that has experienced much conflict and hardship, these heartbreaking scenes call out to us to provide aid and assistance to our brothers and sisters in need.”

The bishop urged U.S. Catholics “to give generously” to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) to support their efforts to provide emergency humanitarian relief.

“I also call upon the U.S. government to provide much-needed assistance and to work in conjunction with Catholic aid organizations to deliver effective assistance to those most in need,” he said.

Earthquake survivors, whose relatives are trapped under the rubble, react in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, Feb. 8, 2023. (OSV News photo/Suhaib Salem, Reuters)

CNEWA, an agency of the Holy See, is looking to aid over 2,000 families in Syria’s Aleppo and Hama regions — already long ravaged by conflict — by providing bedding, food, medicines, infant formula, diapers and clothing. Donations can be made online at https://cnewa.org/work/emergency-syria; by phone at 800-442-6392; or by mail to CNEWA headquarters, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church’s overseas relief and development agency, also is accepting donations through its website, crs.org. CRS is partnering with Caritas Turkey, Caritas Syria and Caritas Anatolia — members of Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of Catholic relief organizations — to shelter displaced victims while ensuring access to food, clean water and hygiene supplies.

At least one U.S. archdiocese has announced its parishes will take up a special collection for quake victims — the Boston Archdiocese.

“Recognizing the growing need for assistance,” a Feb. 9 archdiocesan statement said, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has asked that the collection be taken at Masses during the weekend of Feb. 18-19. The “funds raised will help to provide safe shelter, and access to food, clean water and hygiene supplies” through CNEWA and CRS, it said.

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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