.- The President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Archbishop Paul Cordes, returned to Rome this week after visiting the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina at the special request of Pope Benedict XVI. “I have seen some terrible scenes, but also gestures of great humanity,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Cordes traveled to the regions hardest hit by the hurricane in order to express the solidarity of the Pope with those affected, as well as to offer some help in the relief effort.
In an interview with Vatican Radio upon his return to Rome, the archbishop explained that the presence of a papal envoy was very much appreciated both by Church and civil officials. He also noted the solidarity and generosity of the different offices of Caritas around the world from the first moments of the disaster. More than six million dollars has been made available for the relief effort through Catholic Charities in the United States.
“My visit,” he said, “has inspired others to send more material assistance. The area affected by the storm is vast, and volunteers from all over the United States have been arriving to help. The reconstruction will take months, maybe even years. During my travels I have seen some terrible scenes, but also gestures of great humanity,” he continued. “In this dramatic situation, the United States should not be abandoned.”
Recalling the September 11 attacks during a Mass at the Cathedral of Baton Rouge, Archbishop Cordes invited Catholics to reflect upon the importance of their faith in such circumstances, which “must illuminate each moment of our lives, even the darkest ones.”