Vatican Official Inaugurates Housing for Tsunami Victims

Archbishop Lajolo Visited Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei

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ROME, JUNE 22, 2005 ( A Vatican official visited the Thai island of Phuket to inaugurate a number of houses built by the Catholic Church for victims of last December’s tsunami.

On June 12 Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, visited the village of Tha Chu, where the houses were built for the families of fishermen affected by the Dec. 26 tidal wave.

The news was reported in a statement Wednesday by Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office.

He explained that Archbishop Lajolo traveled from June 11-22 to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, countries most affected by the tidal wave which left 300,000 dead.

The prelate traveled at the invitation of the government of Singapore, to attend the inauguration on June 17 of the exhibition «The Journey of Faith, Art and History from the Vatican Collections,» which was organized by the Vatican Museums and the Asian Civilization Museum.

In Singapore, Archbishop Lajolo participated in a conference on the nature and aims of political diplomacy.

Various meetings

The inauguration of the Thai village is part of the aid offered by the Church to help fishermen — the sector most affected by the tsunami — who overnight lost their homes and means of subsistence.

Navarro Valls said that Archbishop Lajolo celebrated Mass at the Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption on the island of Phuket «for the victims of the tsunami.»

The Vatican press statement said that during his visit to Asia, the archbishop «met with prelates from the bishops’ conference of Thailand, as well as with the archbishops of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and with the apostolic vicar for Brunei Darussalam. He also had talks with George Yong-Boon Yeo, foreign minister of Singapore, and with Vice Sultan Prince Haji Mohammed Bolkiah, foreign minister of Brunei.»

The statement added: «Discussions focused in particular on the situation of bilateral relations and other aspects of international affairs, with special reference to the Southeast Asian region.»

Pope John Paul II established the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei last October. About 16,000 Catholics reside there. The then apostolic prefect in that sultanate, Cornelius Sim, was named bishop.

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