.- On Friday, a message, dated January 22, from the Holy Father to Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," and the Pope's envoy to Southeast Asia was published.
The message asked the Archbishop "to convey the assurance of my concern and my closeness in prayer to all affected by the (tsunami) tragedy and its aftermath." The archbishop is visiting Indonesia from January 29 to February 1 and will be in Sri Lanka from February 2 to 4.
In his Message, John Paul II noted that "the enormous devastation and loss of life associated with the recent earthquake and tidal wave in Southeast Asia has been followed by a remarkable outpouring of sympathy throughout the world, together with a massive mobilization of humanitarian aid.â
I am deeply grateful for the efforts of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and numerous international Catholic charitable agencies to contribute to the relief of the peoples struck by this immense natural disaster."
"I pray," he wrote, "that the solidarity shown by our brothers and sisters throughout the world will prove a source of encouragement, perseverance and hope to everyone in the great work of rebuilding that lies ahead.â
I likewise urge the followers of the different religions to work together in offering comfort and assistance to those in need. May this catastrophe lead, by God's grace, to a future of greater generosity, cooperation and unity in the service of the common good on the part of individuals, peoples and nations."
"I hope," the Holy Father closed, "the Christian community will be led to a deepened trust in God's mysterious providence and an ever closer union to the Lord Jesus in the mystery of His suffering and resurrection. Upon the civil authorities and all engaged in the relief efforts I invoke the divine gifts of wisdom and strength."
A communiquÃ© from Cor Unum notes that the aim of the trip to Asia by Archbishop Cordes, who will bring the Pope's Message to the devastated populations, "is to witness in person to the closeness and solidarity of the Pope and the Church to all those suffering from the tsunami and, at the same time, to contribute to coordinating the multiple initiatives of Catholic agencies working in the territory since that dramatic December 26."
The archbishop, who is accompanied by council under-secretary, Msgr. Giovanni Dal Toso, will also meet with religious and civil authorities, as well as with Caritas and the Catholic NGOs (non-governmental organizations) present in these countries. He will celebrate several Masses for the repose of the souls of the deceased victims.