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Top Vatican official visits typhoon-ravaged Philippines

Cor Unum chief sent by pope to provide help for Haiyan rehabilitation efforts.

Top Vatican official visits typhoon-ravaged Philippines

Cardinal Robert Sarah (left), president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, is accompanied by Archbishop John Du of Palo upon his arrival in Manila on Saturday (Photo by Roi Lagarde)

Roi Lagarde, Manila

January 29, 2014

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The president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum visited a typhoon-ravaged region in the central Philippines yesterday as part of Vatican efforts to show solidarity and provide assistance to victims of one of the country’s worst-ever storms.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the department responsible for humanitarian assistance and charity, said the pope wants to show "consolation and spiritual closeness" to victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people last November.

Pope Francis sent the cardinal to the area to provide help for rehabilitation efforts.

Immediately after the typhoon, Pope Francis donated an initial $150,000 in emergency aid through Cor Unum.

“The Holy Father wishes to express in my person the closeness and indeed the loving and compassionate presence to you of the Lord Jesus and the entire Church,” Sarah said during a Mass inBarangay, in Leyte province.

He also said it was the pope’s wish to visit the region.

The pope wants to show "consolation and spiritual closeness" to victims, he added.

"I would not tell you the date, but the Holy Father has been telling me ‘I might be also going there’,’’ the Vatican official said, drawing cheers and applause.

Sarah went to Tacloban City and Palo town on Tuesday, visiting communities and leading the distribution of relief goods in devastated areas.

The cardinal also made a quick visit to the Sisters of Mercy Hospital, a health facility dedicated to the poor in Tacloban City, and the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo town.

While in Palo, Sarah also led a groundbreaking ceremony for an orphanage, a clinic and a home for the elderly in the compound of the Archbishops’ Residence.

Archbishop John Du of Palo, who was accompanying the cardinal said Cor Unum, will finance the construction.

The project will also include, among other things, a small convent for nuns who will run the facilities, a chapel and a dispensary.

"These are really part of the Holy Father’s desire to reach out to the people,” Du said.

Sarah returned to Manila late on Tuesday. He will travel back to Rome on Thursday.

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