WASHINGTON (December 29, 2004)—As the death toll from Sunday's tsunami continues to rise rapidly, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today offered prayers for the victims and solidarity for the survivors.
"No words can comprehend the horror and tragedy unleashed by the tsunamis that struck huge parts of South Asia on Sunday, December 26th," Bishop Skylstad said in a statement released today.
Bishop Skylstad's statement follows a letter faxed to all the Catholic bishops in the United States yesterday in which he asked them to consider taking up a special collection in parishes to assist with relief efforts already underway by Catholic Relief Services, the bishops' overseas relief and development agency.
The full text of Bishop Skylstad's statement follows:
Solidarity with Victims of South Asian Tsunamisbr> A Statement of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
December 29, 2004
"No words can comprehend the horror and tragedy unleashed by the tsunamis that struck huge parts of South Asia on Sunday, December 26th. The scale of the calamity that took tens of thousands of lives is matched only by the human suffering and loss experienced by many thousands more who just barely survived. They now face the unimaginable task of identifying and burying the dead, rebuilding their lives and struggling to rebuild their communities.
"Together with the Church everywhere, we pray for the victims of this disaster and assure the survivors of our solidarity. As the international community moves to provide emergency aid to the people of the countries most affected, we know that the worldwide Caritas network of Catholic agencies, including our Conference's own Catholic Relief Services, are doing all that is humanly possible to lessen the suffering of those affected. Yesterday I asked all of our Diocesan Bishops to consider taking up a collection in their dioceses to aid our brothers and sisters in the hardest hit areas.
"We commend the souls of the departed to the merciful care of our Savior, whose birth we have just celebrated. We express our ecclesial solidarity with the Bishops and faithful of the Church in each of the lands so devastated this week. And we offer our prayers and support to all whose lives and livelihoods were overwhelmed by the tsunamis."