Bishops call for prayer, aid for Philippines

2013-11-11 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The Philippine’s Catholic bishops have called for a novena of prayer and charity for the victims and grieving families of the super typhoon, which struck this past weekend. About 10,000 are estimated to have been killed.

Msgr Pedro Quitorio, media director of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the funds raised during the novena, which starts today and runs until 19 November, will be channeled to the crisis region through Caritas Philippines.

He said the region where the typhoon hit is home to several dioceses, though two were hardest-hit — the Diocese of Borongan and the Archdiocese of Palo.

In Borongan, which was the typhoon’s first landfall, a UNESCO heritage church was razed and about 85 to 95 per cent of the homes in the parish were also destroyed, though many questions remain, he said.

“In Borongan, we have no concrete reports because all communication lines are down and all power lines are down, and we could not get through to get the exact situation,” he said.

In Palo, in which is situated the city of Tacloban, about 10,000 people are estimated dead. The monsignor affirmed that much church infrastructure was destroyed, including the cathedral of Palo and the important shrine of Santo Nino. But the priority is rebuilding the lives of people and not buildings, he said.

The monsignor did not discount the need to send clergy and religious to minister to the spiritual needs of the people. But, he said, “right now the plan is raising funds and meeting the immediate needs, which are food, water and medicine.”

“In the city of Tacloban, it is anarchy,” he continued. “People are looting the area, the stores, because they are looking for food. There is no law and order right now. This is our first concern. The government has not been able to contain the ‘lawlessness’. We hope this can be contained as soon as possible, so that all relief operations will go as needed.”

Listen to Msgr Pedro Quitorio:

Report and interview by Laura Ieraci