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Pope makes appeal for flood victims in Pakistan

.- Benedict XVI remembered the people of Pakistan in his prayers on Wednesday as he appealed to the international community not to hold back in their assistance to those who are suffering greatly from weeks of flooding.

Flooding, which began at the end of July in Pakistan, has led to an estimated 1,600 deaths and left more than two million people homeless, according to an Aug. 18 Reuters report.

During Wednesday's general audience at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope entrusted the dead to the "merciful goodness of God" and expressed "spiritual closeness" to their relatives and all who are suffering as a result of this "calamity."

"May our solidarity and the concrete support of the international community not be lacking for these brothers of ours, [who are being] so greatly tested," he said.

In collaboration with other international efforts, the Catholic Church, especially through its international charitable organization Caritas, is collaborating to provide assistance for the millions in need.

Caritas made an appeal last week for $5.5 million in donations to be able to provide aid in the form of food and health provisions, to better protect particularly women and children from possible abuses and to rebuild the Pakistani infrastructure in the longer term.

Fr. Mario Rodrigues, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan, told Fides news agency on Wednesday, "We are doing our best. Caritas and the Pontifical Mission Societies have been active and there is a great sense of solidarity. The Catholic faithful are giving all they have."

Emphasizing the devastation and the need for donations, Fides lauded the work of Pakistani Catholics who are "holding nothing back," going door-to-door for donations and providing assistance "without reservations."

Fr. Rodrigues told Fides, "We ask for material aid, but also for the prayers of the faithful in the world."

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