Pope says Christians must aid tsunami orphans

Speaking to Sri Lankan bishops in Rome for their ad limina visit, Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to help children who lost their parents in the tsunami that hit South Asia on Boxing Day.

Zenit reports that the Holy Father took advantage of the meeting to express his sympathy over the tragedy, and to guarantee his and the Church's solidarity with the victims.

More than 31,000 people in that island nation died as a result of the deadly tidal wave, and more than a million were left homeless.

In response to the greeting addressed to him by Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando, president of the Sri Lankan episcopal conference, the Holy Father said: "I was deeply disturbed to observe the devastating effects of the tsunami."

"Please accept my profound sympathy and that of Catholics everywhere for all who have endured such terrible losses," he added. "In the faces of the bereaved and dispossessed, we cannot fail to recognize the suffering face of Christ, and indeed it is he whom we serve when we show our love and compassion to those in need."

"The Christian community has a particular obligation to care for those children who have lost their parents as a result of the natural disaster," the Pope said in his address, delivered in English.

"To these most vulnerable members of society the kingdom of Heaven belongs, yet so often they are simply forgotten or shamelessly exploited as soldiers, laborers, or innocent victims in the trafficking of human beings," Benedict XVI stated.

"No effort should be spared to urge civil authorities and the international community to fight these abuses and to offer young children the legal protection they justly deserve," he continued.

"I am confident," the Holy Father added, "that you will find ways of building further on the fruits of this cooperation, especially by ensuring that aid is offered freely to all who are in need."

Christians Must Aid Tsunami Orphans, Says Pope (Zenit 8/5/05 - temporary url)

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10 May 2005