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 CNS Story:

KATRINA-CORDES Sep-19-2005 (380 words) With photos posted Sept. 13 and 15. xxxi

Papal envoy says U.S. must not be abandoned during Katrina recovery

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "The United States must not be abandoned" as it continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and begins to grapple with the poverty revealed by the disaster, said a special papal envoy.

Archbishop Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," said after a four-day visit to affected areas in Louisiana and Mississippi that he was afraid "the superpower may isolate itself and stay isolated" in the wake of the natural disaster.

As a sign of his personal solidarity, Pope Benedict XVI sent Archbishop Cordes to the United States Sept. 10-14 to meet with victims of the hurricane and with church and government officials.

In a Sept. 17 interview with Vatican Radio, the archbishop said while he had seen "terrible scenes" during his visit he had also witnessed "gestures of great humanity."

He said many people had been shocked by the discovery of poverty in the country -- a poverty, he said, that in some places was "shameful in rich America."

He said members of the church had a duty to not abandon those in need in the United States.

"It is not only our 'communio' with members of our church and our human solidarity: There is more" that impels people to reach out to the United States at this time, he said.

"The weakness experienced by the United States in the face of this catastrophe" can "destroy our conviction of self-sufficiency," he said.

He said Catholic Charities had made $6 million available for relief efforts from the very beginning of the disaster, but he suggested more was needed. He said his visit to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La., Biloxi, Miss., and other places "awakened renewed attention" to the need for additional humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, the worldwide Catholic charities organization, Caritas Internationalis, announced Sept. 16 that it was to hold a think-tank session Sept. 20-21 in Rome on how to boost its efforts in rebuilding areas hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

The Vatican-based agency said Caritas officials from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand were to meet with other Caritas agencies to hammer out strategies to best utilize millions of dollars in donations for rebuilding homes, creating jobs and providing assistance.


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