During Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Benedict also expressed his grief over the tragedy in Myanmar, also know as Burma, where upwards of 20,000 people are dead and some 40,000 still missing after a devastating cyclone ripped through the south eastern part of the country.
"I make my own the cry of pain and the cry for help of the dear people of Myanmar, who have seen the sudden destruction of so many lives by the shattering violence of the cyclone Nargis, in addition to goods and means of subsistence,” the Pope said.
“As I have already assured in the message of solidarity sent to the President of the Episcopal Conference, I am spiritually close to all those affected. I also want to repeat to all the invitation to open your hearts in pity and generosity that, thanks to the cooperation of those who are able and wish to provide aid, we can alleviate the suffering caused by so terrible tragedy."
Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also sent a message of solidarity to those affected by cyclone’s devastation.
“People in Myanmar are facing a terrible humanitarian crisis. The message of our global network to them is that they are not alone. Messages of support have flooded into our offices from around the world,” the cardinal said.
“The Burmese should know that we are doing everything we can to ensure international aid efforts get through. So far we are receiving very positive messages from the Myanmar government on their need for international help. We hope this will allow non-governmental organisations such as ourselves access into the affected areas,” he added.
Cardinal Rodriguez also explained that Caritas is well equipped to respond to the humanitarian crisis due to their past experience. “We know from past emergencies such as the Asia tsunami and Cyclone Sidr that getting fresh water, medical supplies, food and shelter into a disaster zone quickly can prevent a second wave of deaths from disease and exposure. Caritas are [sic] ready to use that experience to help survivors in Myanmar as quickly as possible.”
Caritas is an international network of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations working to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed, in over 200 countries and territories.