Pope to Quake Victims: Love Overcomes Death

Urges Restoring Beauty of Churches and Villages

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ONNA, Italy, APRIL 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is assuring earthquake survivors that the Church will be close to them as they rebuild their towns, and is encouraging other institutions to continue aid during the reconstruction.

The Pope said this today in an address in Onna, the first part of his visit to the area affected by the April 6 disaster. Due to bad weather, he could not travel by helicopter as planned, but arrived by car from Rome to the camp where Onna inhabitants have taken refuge until their homes are rebuilt.

The Pontiff greeted the people of the village, “one of the places that paid a high price in terms of human lives,” having lost 40 of its 300 inhabitants.
 
He told the people: “I was close to you from the first moment. I followed the news with great concern, sharing your disbelief, your tears for the dead, and your anxious concerns for what you lost in an instant.

“Now I am here among you; and I would like to embrace you affectionately, each one. All the Church is here with me, accompanying your sufferings, participating in your pain for the loss of relations and friends, and desirous to help you rebuild the homes, churches and businesses that collapsed or were seriously damaged in the tremor.”

The Holy Father affirmed, “I have admired and continue to admire the courage, dignity and faith with which you face this serious trial, showing great determination not to give way to adversity.”

Benedict XVI acknowledged, “I am well aware that, despite the solidarity forthcoming from all sides, there are many daily discomforts involved in living outside your homes, in cars or tents, especially because of the cold and rain.”

“My poor presence among you,” he added, “is intended as a tangible sign of the fact that the crucified Lord is risen and does not abandon you.”

The Pope affirmed: “[God] is not deaf to the anguished cries of so many families who have lost everything: houses, savings, work and sometimes even human lives.

“Of course, his tangible response comes though our solidarity, which cannot be limited to the initial emergency but must become a stable project over time. I encourage everyone, institutions and companies, to ensure that this city and this land may arise again.”

Hope

The Pontiff turned his attention to the earthquake victims, praying for the dead and affirming, “They are alive in God, and await from you a testimony of courage and hope.”

“They hope to see the rebirth of their land,” he continued, “which must once more adorn itself with houses and churches, beautiful and solid.”

The Holy Father stated: “Love remains, even beyond the river crossing of this our precarious earthly life, because true love is God. Those who love overcome death in God, and know that their loved ones are not lost.”

Benedict XVI next travelled to the Collemaggio Basilica in L’Aquila, where he prayed in front of the casket with the remains of Pope St. Celestine V. To emphasize his spiritual solidarity, the Pontiff left there the pallium which he received at the beginning of his pontificate.

The Pope then went to the student residence hall where many youth were killed to greet the university students who lived there. He left there for the training school of the “Guardia di Finanza” where he addressed the leaders of the towns most affected by the earthquake.

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