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Total Catholic aid to Tsunami recovery effort now at $500m

The Vatican Information Service indicated yesterday that Catholic aid agencies around the world have now contributed more than $500m to the Tsunamic relief effort. In Australia, Catholic Mission, has set up what it describes as an "unprecedented solidarity fund".

In a speech given to the General Assembly of the UN on January 18, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, expressed "deepest condolences to the concerned countries," and noted that "since the very start of the emergency, His Holiness Pope John Paul the Second has expressed his deepest sympathy. He has committed the agencies of the Catholic Church to act in a genuine gesture of solidarity to all people without exception in each nation touched by this enormous tragedy."

Archbishop Migliore added that the Catholic Church's "institutions and the Papal Representatives present in the affected countries went into action immediately. Firstly, they gave out food and clothes as well as sheltering the affected populations. Tragically, it has become clear that the most affected group has been young children, of whom at least fifty thousand were swept away, but there are also tens of thousands left orphaned. For this reason we are placing special emphasis upon ways to bring help to surviving children in the zones worst affected."

"In cooperation with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum," stated Archbishop Migliore, "a very long list of Catholic agencies is already using funds from throughout the world, amounting to nearly five hundred million dollars, some of which is going into emergency aid and the rest into longer term projects through our local networks." He underscored that "the extraordinary impact of the power of nature ... elicited an equally extraordinary response from the peoples and governments of the whole world. ... Such a swift and practical expression of global solidarity is surely a sign of the fundamental decency of the peoples of the world."

Meanwhile, Church Mission Australia issued the following media statement yesterday:

Special fund to help tsunami victims

Catholic Mission has established a special, unprecedented 'solidarity fund' to help rebuild those countries affected by the Asian tsunami. The South-East Asia Solidarity Fund will build on the already significant funding that Catholic Mission has in place in the affected regions.

The fund will allow donors to channel their money directly to communities affected by the tsunami. While the Catholic relief agency Caritas is providing vital emergency help to victims, Catholic Mission will focus on re-establishing projects for children including shelter and medical care and rebuilding schools and churches and repairing damaged seminaries, novitiates and convents.

Catholic Mission National Director Father Terry Bell said it was now believed many ongoing Catholic Mission projects had been affected by the devastating tsunami. Many of the schools and churches had simply been washed away and many mission stations were water-damaged or buried.

Money collected through the fund will help re-establish many of the facilities already supported by Catholic Mission on an ongoing basis and will also assess new grant applications arising out of the legacy of the tsunami.

Father Bell said money from Australia would continue to be used by Catholic Mission in the many other areas of the developing world facing crises. In 2004 more than $1.4 million has been sent directly from Australia - the largest amount ever raised here - to help children in underdeveloped countries including India, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Albania and Indonesia.

"We must not forget Africa and so much of the rest of the world, not affected by the tsunami, but in dire need," he said. "It is helpful to be reminded of the sobering statistic that 30,000 children die everyday of preventable diseases. It would be wonderful if the philanthropic vein that has been opened as a result of the tsunami, continued to flow in the direction of the rest of the developing world."

To contribute to Catholic Mission's South-East Asia Solidarity Fund phone 1800 257 296 or go to

Catholic agencies give $500 million in aid to tsunami victims (VIS 20/1/05)

Caritas Australia Tsunami Appeal now at $8m (CathNews 20/1/05)
Caritas Australia Asia Earthquake Appeal tops $8 million (Caritas 19/1/05)
Australia remembers tsunami victims (CathNews 17/1/05)
Australians to remember tsunami victims (CathNews 14/1/05)
Inter-faith prayer for tsunami victims in Phuket (CathNews 7/1/05
Stronger faith builds in the wake of disaster (CathNews 6/1/05)
Australian Church sends prayers and support to tsunami victims (CathNews 4/1/05)

Clerics warn against blaming God (The Australian 17/1/05)
Finding comfort in the prayers of others (Sydney Morning Herald 17/1/05)
Silence and prayer for those who died (The Age 17/1/05)
Sri Lankan Community Mass, Chatswood tribute to victims (Catholic Weekly 16/1/05)
Compassion on show at SA services (ABC News 16/1/05)
Brisbane mourners hope good will come of tsunami (ABC News 16/1/05)
Concerts, church services for tsunami victims (ABC News 16/1/05)
Victorians reflect on tsunami disaster (ABC News 16/1/05)
Catholic Priest Killed in Indonesia (Zenit 14/1/05)
Vatican invites Tsunami victims to solemn Mass (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
Tsunami relief: (Canadian) Catholic parishes raise at least $7 million in special national collection (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
Cardinal Rigali urges (US) government to allow Indonesians facing deportation to stay (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
US cardinal impressed by Sri Lankan resilience (Catholic News Agency 14/1/05)
Scottish Catholics raise over a million for tsunami survivors (Independent Catholic News 14/1/05)
Caritas Collects $63 Million to Aid South East Asia (Zenit 14/1/05)

21 Jan 2005