In the wake of a disastrous earthquake and tsunami, Japan has encountered help from Catholic charities who are working around the clock to assist in rebuilding efforts across the country.
Through “the generous work of volunteers, assistance to refugees and the victims is provided, helping them return to their normal life,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah who heads the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
Caritas Japan reported that staff members and volunteers have been providing food and other aid to 10,000 survivors following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The recent disaster, which killed over 15,000 people, was largest to have hit Japan on record with over half a million people now homeless.
With the additional problems of nuclear meltdown threats at the Fukushima power plant, the overall cost could exceed $300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in history.
Caritas is administering ready-to-eat meals and other relief items such as hygiene kits, clothing and school kits. The organization has received assistance from more than 600 volunteers from all over Japan.
In a move of solidarity, Cardinal Sarah visited the hardest hit areas in the country, focusing on the city of Sendai.
The cardinal's visit was “a clear expression of will of the Holy Father,” Papal Nuncio Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello told Fides news on May 17. “That is what the Japanese need today, at this stage of reconstruction and difficult recovery, after the earthquake and tsunami.”
His “presence was that of a friend and fellowship, able to inspire great courage and to give precious spiritual help, as well as material, to the Church and the whole nation."
Cardinal Sarah traveled first to the Diocese of Saitama, where he met the local bishop and attended a prayer service on the shores of the sea, leaving flowers for the victims of the tsunami.
On Sunday, May 15, he celebrated the Mass in the Diocese of Sendai. The cardinal prayed for the victims, expressed his closeness to them and gave a blessing.