.- The cathedral in Concepcion, Chile has been reopened to the faithful, five months after a devastating earthquake left it severely damaged. Reconstruction efforts, however, are far from complete and the bishop has called for assistance, especially from the local community.
According to the archbishop's office, Archbishop of Concepcion, Ricardo Ezzati, celebrated a Mass to give thanks for the inauguration of the cathedral after repair work had reached a point where the church could once again be used.
In his homily for the occasion, he called the faithful to be active in working to make the cathedral even more beautiful than it was before. "We truly hope that, from the sons and daughters of the Church in Concepcion, a commitment will emerge so that the cathedral might recover its the architectural beauty and also the beauty it represents," said Archbishop Ezzati.
He noted that much of the work carried out to date, like clearing the central nave of rubble, has been done with the support of benefactors from the Chilean capital of Santiago. Only 40 percent of the nearly $1 million pricetag for reconstruction is covered by insurance.
Archbishop Ezzati expected a local commission to begin a campaign soon to raise the necessary funds to finance the cathedral's full reconstruction.
Praying that the work would be done, "God willing, in time for Christmas," he acknowledged that with the seriousness of the damage to the structure and the need for a new roof, it may not be so. Archbishop Ezzati urged the local faithful to roll up their sleeves and not to expect everything to come from Santiago.
The Feb. 27 earthquake, which measured 8.8 the Richter scale and killed 521 people, is classified as among the top 10 strongest on record, according to the Chilean Ministry of the Interior.