Osaka Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga SJ, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, issued the following statement on March 18, 2011. To all the Catholics of Japan: One week has passed since the Great Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake. Through newspapers, television, and other media, we have surrounded ourselves with the images of this catastrophe, and every day we feel still more deeply the pain and sadness of those whom it has affected. We watch with unbearable sorrow the many people who continue to live as helpless refugees, often mourning the loss of family members or fearing for their safety, and all made still worse by the accidents at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. From the midst of these scenes of devastation, we have already seen the first movements toward rebirth and revival. However, the fact is that our efforts are crippled by many obstacles to the provision of even the most basic food and necessities. The local government has set up a volunteer center, and the Catholic Church, too, has established an aid organization called the Sendai Diocese Support Center; donation requests have also been issued by Caritas Japan and, of course, Sendai Diocese itself. It is to be hoped that we will all offer whatever concrete forms of assistance we have the means to provide. There is great need for prayer and sacrifice on behalf of the victims of this disaster. I have composed the following prayer, so that we might all pray in unity for this cause. If you would join me in reciting it, I would be most grateful. Prayer: Merciful God, you never depart from us even in the worst of times; be with us in both our joy and in our sadness. Grant your aid and encouragement to those who suffer in the face of this great calamity. We, too, continue to offer you our prayers and sacrifices for their sake. Bring us with all possible haste to the day when all can live in safety. May all those who have lost their lives in the devastation find peaceful repose in your presence. Mother Mary, pray for us. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. In a recent message, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has assured “all who have been afflicted of his closeness at this difficult time. He prays for those who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation.” Let us therefore join our hearts with his and, in unity, strive earnestly to offer our prayers and our assistance. March 18, 2011 President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan Archbishop of Osaka Leo Jun Ikenaga
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