Aid Requested for Quake Victims in Iran

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- As soon as John Paul II learned of the Iranian earthquake, he expressed his closeness to the country's residents and urged Catholic institutions to join in relief efforts.



On Dec. 26, the Pope requested that a telegram be sent to Archbishop Angelo Mottola, apostolic nuncio in Iran, in which the Holy Father expressed "his profound sympathy to the authorities of the country and the Iranian people."

Before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, the Pope appealed for prayers for the victims of the quake that devastated the city of Bam.

He invited "international organizations, especially Catholic charitable institutions, to help with generosity our Iranian brothers and sisters, affected by such a grave catastrophe. May the solidarity of the whole world, felt especially in the Christmas climate, make their situation less dramatic."

Some sources put the death toll at close to 30,000. Others fear it could reach 40,000 or higher.

On Tuesday, the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" announced that John Paul II made a financial donation to relief efforts.

"With this gesture," a "Cor Unum" statement explained, "His Holiness wishes to sustain and encourage, through Catholic structures present in that nation, the relief work for those suffering from the consequences of the catastrophic earthquake." No details on the exact amount of the donation were given.

Caritas Internationalis, the world federation of national Catholic aid organizations, has mobilized to help those affected by the quake.