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Nuncio reassures Burmese refugees
‚ÄėYou are not forgotten and we care for you,‚Äô envoy says at Thai campArchbishop d‚ÄôAniello celebrates Mass
- John Murray, Tham Hin
- March 22, 2011
‚ÄúMy purpose in coming here is to show my friendship and solidarity with you‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúto share with you the Church‚Äôs care for you,‚ÄĚ said Archbishop Giovanni d‚ÄôAniello during his March 21 visit to the Tham Hin refugee camp in Ratchaburi province.
Tham Hin is the site of one of nine camps for Burmese refugees in Thailand. It was established in 1997 and is today home to more than 9,500 refugees, mostly Karen people.
Archbishop d‚ÄôAniello‚Äôs visit to the camp was to show how much these people matter to him, he said in his address on being welcomed there by the Thai camp commander and representatives of the local camp community.
The archbishop was appointed apostolic nuncio to Thailand in September 2010. He also represents the Pope in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Although Archbishop d‚ÄôAniello said he came as a ‚Äúconcerned‚ÄĚ individual he also came as the representative of both the Church and the Pope, letting camp residents know that ‚Äúyou are not forgotten and we care for you.‚ÄĚ
The Catholic Church‚Äôs efforts there are through Caritas Thailand and its Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees which works closely with UNHCR and the many other NGOs active in the nine camps with over 150,000 refugees from inside Myanmar.
In visiting Tham Hin, Archbishop d‚ÄôAniello said he was symbolically reaching out to all these refugees. In speaking to those present, he was speaking to all Burmese refugees in Thailand. ‚ÄúYou are part of the Church‚Äôs life and mission,‚ÄĚ he said reiterating Pope Benedict‚Äôs stance that the ‚ÄúChurch‚Äôs work for refugees is an essential work of the Church.‚ÄĚ
He said: ‚ÄúToday, I want to meet as many of you as I can. I want to listen to your stories and try to understand better not only your suffering and challenges in life, but also your hopes for life and a better future.‚ÄĚ
During his homily at Mass the nuncio added, ‚ÄúHere I experience the love of God for us. You give witness of God‚Äôs love to me as you go through your suffering. I thank you for this. ‚Ä¶ I came with empty hands but leave with a full heart.‚ÄĚ
The nuncio‚Äôs program for the day featured a visit to the camp hospital and to the camp‚Äôs agriculture project. ‚ÄúGod is with you as is the Church,‚ÄĚ he said before leaving.