.- The Italan Bishops' Conference has announced their support, both financially and through prayer, to assist Chile after the devastating earthquake last weekend.
In a note posted on the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) website, the bishops expressed the "closeness" of the Italian Church to the victims of last Saturday's disaster, which killed 279 people, according to the official government count.
They also invited the Church to pray for those affected and to support the "initiatives of solidarity" being taken by Caritas Italy, which pledged 100,000 euros for immediate aid on Tuesday.
The CEI announced that to "face first emergencies and the essential needs of the people struck by the earthquake" it has allocated the use of one million euros to Church-based relief assistance for Chile. The sum, they indicated, comes from the "eight per thousand" program, which gives the bishops' conference 0.8 percent of the taxes paid to the Italian government by those who wish to contribute to the Church.
According to the CEI, its Committee for Charitable Interventions in the Third World will oversee the distribution of funds, responding to requests for assistance to directly support projects in the local Chilean Church.
Three days of national mourning have been called for by Chilean president Michelle Bachelet beginning this coming Sunday.