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TSUNAMI-VATICAN Jan-25-2005 (350 words) With photo to come. xxxi

Vatican official says tsunami disaster made people feel powerless

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis made people realize how small they are in the face of the forces of nature, said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

People spontaneously raised their eyes to heaven, "seeking some kind of response to the many questions that arise in moments of loss," Cardinal Sodano said in his homily at a Jan. 24 memorial Mass for the victims of the Dec. 26 disaster. The cardinal represented Pope John Paul II at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

"Some people even asked how man, who was able to go to the moon, who was able to send a probe to Titan (a moon of Saturn) more than a billion kilometers from earth, is so powerless in the face of this kind of disaster," Cardinal Sodano said.

When asked if Christians have a response to "the enigma of pain," he said, Christians must respond: "Yes. God always loves us and is always near to us with a father's love."

The love of God, the cardinal added, is more powerful than a tsunami.

"He became man to share our existence in the happy and the sad moments of life," the cardinal said. Christ did not do away with suffering, but he took on suffering, giving it new meaning and value.

"For everyone, life is transitory. For everyone it is a journey toward eternity," he said.

Cardinal Sodano told the congregation that in addition to asking for prayers the pope asked for continued acts of charity and solidarity with the tsunami victims.

Priests and deacons from Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and other countries affected by the tsunamis assisted at the Mass, which also was attended by members of the countries' diplomatic corps serving in Rome.

Cardinal Sodano said the certainty that resurrection and eternal life are found in Christ "sustains us in the course of our days on earth, knowing that life is just a step toward eternity."

"According to Christian spirituality, believers consider themselves exiles waiting to return to the house of the Father," he said.


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