Manila, Philippines, Nov 14, 2013 / 17:54 pm
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has called for a day of prayer and fasting in solidarity with all those affected by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
"You are not alone and will never be alone," the cardinal said in a message to victims of storm, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda.
Cardinal Tagle has announced a "Day of Lament and Hope" with the theme "Solidarity in Prayer," to be held Nov. 16.
In his message addressed to the priests, religious and laity in the archdiocese of Manila, he asked that the day be observed through penance, prayer and fasting, as a way to be united with those suffering in the storm's aftermath.
The cardinal will lead a Prayer Service and Holy Hour at 8 p.m. at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish church, in Paco, Manila, which is temporarily serving as the official church of the Archdiocese of Manila. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception remains closed for restoration efforts that began last year.
The prayer service will be held for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, which struck the Philippines on Nov. 8, leaving destruction in its wake.
Initial estimates suggested that some 10,000 people had been killed by the storm, although the nation's president, Benigno Aquino, later placed the number closer to 2,500. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council confirmed that 2,357 dead bodies have been recovered as of Nov. 14, but this number is expected to grow.
In a recent address to the U.S. bishops, Catholic Relief Services president Carolyn Woo explained that reliable estimates are still difficult at this point because the damage is so bad that some regions of the country are still inaccessible and death tolls are uncertain.
Church agencies including Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Manila have been working to provide immediate aid and relief, particularly in the most critically affected areas of Eastern Samar, Leyte, Panay and Palawan.
The bishops' conference in the Philippines has also declared a nationwide novena of prayer from Nov. 11-19 for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, as well as victims of the earthquake that struck the central Philippines last month.
Cardinal Tagle stressed solidarity, urging, "We are one with our suffering brothers and sisters."
"A time of disaster is a time to help others," he told the faithful. It is not a time to think only of self and forget others. It is a time to console and embrace our neighbors. It is a time to show a love that is stronger than an earthquake or a typhoon."
"With this love, human lives will be restored and our nation rebuilt."