Cardinal Bertone Brings Papal Support to Chile

Lauds People’s Faith After Tragedy of Quake

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CONCEPCION, Chile, APRIL 11, 2010 ( Benedict XVI’s secretary of state is assuring earthquake and tsunami victims in Chile that they have the Pope’s spiritual closeness and support.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is in the South American nation, and has encouraged those affected by the disaster to «pick themselves up again,» according to a report by the communications office of the Archdiocese of Concepcion.

The prelate arrived in Chile last Friday. He has met with various government and Church leaders, and presided over a Mass at an altar in the square in front of the cathedral of Concepción, which was badly damaged by the Feb. 27 earthquake.

In his homily Cardinal Bertone conveyed the greetings of Benedict XVI, noting that from the first moment that the Pope had received news of the earthquake he had prayed and kept himself continually informed of the situation. The Pontiff, he said, has entrusted the reconstruction of the country to the Blessed Virgin.

The prelate also invited those present to keep alive the flame of hope. He dedicated part of his reflections to the priesthood, in the context of the Year for Priests, asking the clergy to take on the work of the Church with a missionary spirit that «opens doors and windows» to motivate those who have strayed.

The cardinal encouraged Chileans to build upon the living rock of Jesus Christ and on the solid hope of his love, and to build a more fraternal, just and solidary world.

At the offertory, three brothers of the indigenous Muche people brought up a loom and food typical of the Arauca region; a family from Santa Clara de Talcahuano, who had lost their house in the tsunami but were able to escape, offered a triptych of the continental mission.

Before the final blessing, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati offered Cardinal Bertone a cross of «piedra cruz.» «[W]e would like to offer you a cross particular to our region, from a river, the Rio Cruces, where rock is found that bears a cross in it. We would like to give this gift to you with great affection, but may it not be a cross that weighs upon your shoulders, but one full of light, of hope that accompanies your ministry at the Holy Father’s side.»

The mayor of Concepcion, Patricio Kuhn, gave him a parchment. Cardinal Bertone offered a monstrance for the cathedral, which was welcomed by loud applause from those present.

Afterward, before a luncheon with local officials, there was a brief press conference during which the cardinal spoke to the people of Chile, noting the confidence that «Chilean society has placed in the Church, in her pastors and her institutions in such a difficult time as the present one.» He further observed how Chileans «are nourished by a growing hope that points to material reconstruction but also to the recomposition of confidence, of values.»

«A tragedy like this,» he continued, «always raises major questions about life, values, social coexistence, our image of God and our relationship with him. It is touching to see the great faith of the Chilean people in moments of suffering. The Church has placed all of its network of parishes and communities at the service of the most vulnerable, furnishing spiritual accompaniment and solidarity during this emergency, above all through Caritas.»

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