by Janet Guadalupe Pedraza
Given that the state of Morelos was the epicenter of the September 19 earthquake, Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of the Diocese of Cuernavaca, who heads this pastoral area, talked exclusively to ZENIT about his concerns, as the state is one of the most devastated.
ZENIT: Almost one month after the earthquake, what is the prevailing situation in the Diocese of Cuernavaca in Morelos?
Bishop Castro: I can share with you that we are living something unheard of – something that we can’t yet measure in all its dimension. To what am I referring?
For instance: The cathedral had endured many earthquakes, many difficulties, and was always standing, as well as all the Convents of the volcano’s Ruta de Pie, however, this atypical earthquake pulled down 320 churches in the state of Morelos alone, which is the Diocese of Cuernavaca. Now, after a month, we see how grief, sadness and impotence is still present in many of our hearts; however, at the same time it’s being compensated with solidarity, with aid, with the concern of so many of our Mexican brothers and people from abroad who are showing their interest and giving their help. Very motivating has been the aid in foods, supplies that have arrived from the whole country and also from abroad, primarily from people of the United States.
In one moment we felt our churches collapse, our buildings, our houses, but our faith and our hope are being strengthened. The quake created this strength, something beautiful of which we can already speak. Faith has been strengthened, hope has been strengthened in face of this situation and, hence, we see from whence the Mexican saying stems, “there is no evil that doesn’t bring good.”
ZENIT: What type of aid does your Diocese need now?
Bishop Castro: We have ended a first phase, which was especially the food emergency; and the type of aid required now in all the affected Dioceses is reconstruction! We have over 15,000 homes in our Diocese alone that have been totally or partially destroyed; 15,000 families that in the main have also lost their employment; they have lost what they were able to achieve during their whole life with so much effort.
Hence a reconstruction is necessary, a place where they can stay, gather their family and continue their life. Many of those who lost their things have had to go to relatives, others are in shelters, which have been especially prepared for this.
ZENIT: On October 26 the Holy Father talked with children in Jojutla, Morelos. What did Pope Francis’ gesture mean for you, that he should look at your Diocese?
Bishop Castro: Jojutla is one of the most damaged cities; there alone there were 74 dead and hundreds of families affected and inside one of the largest shelters in the “Children Heroes” sports unit, is Scholas Occurrenes, who were the ones who organized the video-conference with the Holy Father, and it was lovely to see the children. Scholas Occurrentes also took this meeting with the Holy Father to Tetela del Volcan, Morelos.
It was very encouraging to see him dedicating this time exclusively to them, truly the presence of the Successor of Peter in a wounded place and as the Good Samaritan, who anointed with oil the hearts of those children, and he did so also in the women’s prisons. They were two emblematic places of the state of Morelos of our Diocese and it’s Peter’s presence among us, who comes to confirm us in the faith and to tell us that we’re not alone. The universal Church is with the particular Church!
ZENIT: Before this connection with the Holy Father, you had a close communication with him, no?
Bishop Castro: No, not directly. We established the communication through the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Franco Coppola; we have a relationship with the Nuncio and, in fact, he’s going to visit our Diocese, God willing, on November 3!
The Nuncio is coming to two very representative places of this disaster, which are Jojutla in the south of the state, and Jaltetenco in the eastern part, which is the most seriously affected by the consequences of the quake. The Nuncio’s presence is the Pope’s presence and it will make us very happy to receive him. In Jojutla he will meet with the people affected; he will listen to their experiences, their sadness. It will be a sort of catharsis of the people before the Pope’s representative and we are waiting for his message. In Jaltetenco, he will preside over the Eucharistic Celebration. These two moments are very significant for us.
The Bishop’s Message
I would like to share with all my brothers, as we are one Church, we are one family, we are one People of God and, what happens to one part of our people, of our universal Church, affects the whole Church.
I believe it’s something from which we must draw a conclusion in face of this type of misfortune, as it affects — as it has recently affected not only Mexico but also Puerto Rico and other places.
May there never be indifference in the heart of those of us who call ourselves Christ’s disciples. May this globalization also be of goodness, a globalization of charity, a globalization of fraternity, of love, because no one is so rich that he doesn’t need to receive something or so poor that he can’t give something. When we are all well, when we all feel this unity, I think the People of God have a stronger and firmer perfume of Christ now and we walk with greater spirit and greater faithfulness to the teachings of our Master and Lord Jesus.
by Janet Guadalupe Pedraza