Archbishop praises unbroken faith of typhoon survivors

Published 16 November 2013  |  
(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
A survivor salvages belongings from her damaged home at typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. Authorities said at least 2 million people in 41 provinces had been affected by Friday's typhoon Haiyan and at least 23,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed.

A special Mass to pray for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was held at Westminster Cathedral on Friday night.

Prayers were said during the Mass for those who had lost their lives and survivors struggling without adequate shelter or basic necessities in the aftermath.

In his homily, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said survivors were in a "desperate" state and that Bishop John Arnold would be making a visit next week to survivors on behalf of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

He paid tribute to the UK Government and agencies around the world working to help survivors and rebuild the Philippines.

"At this moment we readily feel powerless, unable to help. And yet help is being given by people and governments from all around the world," he said.

The Archbishop also spoke of the new hope seen in touching reports of babies being born in the midst of the destruction.

"Such hope for new life is so evidently carried in the hearts of very many of those suffering the effects of the typhoon," he said.

"In fact, more than anything we can give them, they offer us an inspiring witness to the power of hope, a hope deeply rooted in faith.

"I find it especially remarkable that their trust in God has not been crushed by the terrifying winds which flattened everything else, including so many churches."

This was seen, he noted, in worshippers going to church last Sunday despite everything they had suffered through the typhoon.

At Loboc, for example, the parish priest, Fr Andres Ayco held three Masses for the people and reported: "Behind their suffering is their faith in the Lord."

Archbishop Nichols continued: "Certainly, this admirable hope, faith, and love flourishing in the face of the grievous pain of loss, this cleaving to God despite the horror experienced, encourages us to strive for the same remarkable and unreserved commitment to God's providence; to the God who from all bad things has the power to bring out good, even from the suffering wrought by Typhoon Yolanda."

He added: "We pray for those who mourn that they may know the consolation of Christ who wept at the death of his friend Lazarus, and who weeps with them.

"We thank God for our Filipino brothers' and sisters' inspiring example of hope, faith and love amidst such devastation."

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