Cardinal Bertone Visits Quake-Hit Peru

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LIMA, Peru, AUG. 24, 2007 ( Peru needs hope, as well as moral and physical reconstruction, said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone upon visiting the nation in the wake of last week's magnitude-8 earthquake.

Today the secretary of state visited the cities of Ica and Pisco, hardest hit by the Aug. 15 earthquake.

The United Nations reports that the disaster left more than 600 people dead, 10,000 injured and an estimated 16,000 homes destroyed.

Cardinal Bertone, whose trip to Peru was already planned before the earthquake hit, brought with him the spiritual and material solidarity of Benedict XVI.

The cardinal said upon arriving, "There is need to establish a new hope, a new force of moral reconstruction, of material reconstruction."

He urged the affected populations to have trust because "everyone is united with the Peruvian people." He underlined that the Catholics worldwide are mindful of the urgent needs of the nation.

The prelate also met with the archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, and with President Alan García Pérez.

The government awarded Cardinal Bertone the Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun of Peru, the country's highest civilian award.

Tomorrow, he will open Peru's 9th National Eucharistic Congress, which will continue through Aug. 30.