Vatican Celebrates Special Mass for Tsunami Victims

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2005 ( The Vatican will celebrate a special mass this month in memory of the victims of last month’s tsunami in Southeast Asia.

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“All the faithful are invited to attend, in particular the priests, religious, and faithful from the countries afflicted by the devastating cataclysm,” affirmed a Vatican statement published today.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, will preside at the mass to be held on Jan. 24 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The United Nations reported on Thursday that at least 153,397 people died as a consequence of the earthquake and tidal wave in the Indian Ocean, while 27,194 have disappeared. The figure of the displaced reaches 1.2 million.

As soon as John Paul II heard the news of the Dec. 26 catastrophe, he recollected himself in prayer and mobilized the solidarity of Catholics worldwide. He has closely followed the events, keeping in touch with the apostolic nuncios in the affected countries.

The Pope has sent emergency aid to Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Somalia through the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum.”

The Holy See has called a meeting in Rome at the end of January of the Apostleship of the Sea to help fishermen, who are among the most affected by the disaster, as they have lost their homes and means of livelihood.

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