Here is a pastoral statement from the bishops of the Philippines regarding the earthquake and typhoon that devastated the nation this month. The statement was published on the Feast of Christ the King.
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My dear brothers and sisters:
The recent earthquake and typhoon have caused disasters and devastation to our people. No words can describe the sorrow that many of our brothers and sisters, particularly those living in the islands of Bohol, Cebu, Leyte and Samar have suffered. The calamities have tested our spirit as a community.
As the Year of Faith comes to close, we have been called upon to exercise our faith by putting our trust in the Lord and reaching out to help each other. Once again we treasure the precious gift of faith. It will not falter; we shall overcome adversities with charity. As we pray we shall rise with courage and renewed hope for the future. We profess “by endurance you will save your lives” (Luke 21:19).
Signs of their indomitable spirit can be seen everywhere. People from safer areas flocking to devastated places bearing food, water, medicine and other relief goods to help the survivors. Homes and communities opening their gates and doors to welcome evacuees and care for those who have taken refuge. It is inspiring to see convoys of vehicles bearing relief goods and materials as manifestations of solidarity and a life of charity. There may be less of good cheer this Christmas for many, but the Christmas spirit did come early this year. </p>
Even as we take heart in the resilience and strength of those who felt victims to the calamities, as well as in the sacrifices, generosity and caring spirit of those who volunteered to help, we gratefully acknowledge the solicitous concern of various international communities who had been with us even before the typhoon struck. Our profound gratitude goes to the foreign media, who brought to the world’s attention the plight of our countrymen. We thank the government and foreign institutions who have sent aid and expression of solidarity.
Indeed the twin calamities have tested severely our faith. Yet, even now, we believe we shall emerge from their situations with more awareness of the pattern of nature and hopefully learn its lessons. By strengthening the systems and institutions that mitigate the effects of these forces of nature, we can avoid the recurrence of the present tragedy.
The culmination of the Year of Faith makes us trust in the God of love and mercy, the God who points to a tomorrow much better than today. For our part, knowing the dream and love in people’s hearts, we need to pick up the pieces of our lives, help each other to rise again and take up the journey of rebuilding our communities. We confess God makes all things new (cf. Rev. 21:5).
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
+JOSE S. PALMA, DD
November 24, 2013
Solemnity of Christ the Universal King