Typhoon Durian environmental "message from God": Filipino Bishop

Philippines bishops' conference president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that the disastrous Typhoon Durian that killed 1,000 people was a message from God and a sign of what happens when "natural resources are weakened because of man's negligence".

According to the Philippines Inquirer, Catholics, who comprise a majority of the Philippines population, were probably asking how a loving God could allow a powerful typhoon to wipe out communities and claim hundreds of innocent lives.

Archbishop Lagdameo's response is that God was probably sending the message that "we have no control over elements that arrive in our country".

"It means that He is still in control," he told Church-run Radio Veritas.

Mudflows triggered by Typhoon Reming, known internationally as Typhoon Durian, hit as many as 31 villages of 14,871 residents, according to estimates by the Philippine National Red Cross. Local officials had also warned that the death toll could hit a thousand.

According to Caritas Australia, which has launched a relief campaign with local partners, the typhoon caused rivers of mud and volcanic ash to flow into central Philippine villages near Mayon volcano, burying houses and blocking transportation routes.

Flash flooding is also a problem, as the typhoon drove rain and winds of up 160 kilometres per hour across the region.

The situation is feared worse than current reports and Caritas says it will continue to assess the situation as more information comes to hand.

"This is a sign from God that perhaps we are not doing things right in our country," Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan told the Inquirer.

He urged the faithful to view the tragedy in connection with other "man-made" disasters in the country.

"Nothing just happens for no reason," he said in a statement posted at his web blog.

"Nothing just takes place with no meaning at all. Otherwise, God would have no dominion over his creation and creatures. There is no such thing as good or bad luck. Otherwise, God would have no control over man, nature and events. This would be gross blasphemy."

Archbishop Lagdameo said the tragedy was connected with man's destruction of the environment.

"Perhaps, the destruction would not have been as big if only our environment and ecology were strong," he said in Filipino.

"What happens is our natural resources are weakened because of man's negligence."

Meanwhile, Caritas volunteer teams from the 16 affected dioceses and archdioceses in Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions have already swung into action, providing relief and solace to affected populations, a Caritas Internationalis statement says.

As part of their long-term social and development work with communities, Church schools and parish centres became an immediate refuge for thousands of families across the affected regions.

In the Diocese of Legazpi, 3,700 families from eight towns in the area are being provided with shelter, food and solace by diocesan Caritas relief teams.

Nine hundred sacks of rice have already been dispatched to affected dioceses in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions and some parts of Central Luzon.

Caritas Australia is accepting donations to provide emergency aid. The number to call is 1800 024 413.

Reming disaster a message from God -- bishop (Newsinfo, 4/12/06)
Philippines Typhoon: Caritas Australia responds (Media Release, 4/12/06)
Caritas Responds to Typhoon Durian in the Philippines (Reuters Alertnet, 4/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Caritas Australia
Caritas Philippines
Caritas International

5 Dec 2006