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Faith communities unite to pray for victims.  

Cardinal, Moderator and Bishop join with Interfaith leaders to commemorate disaster.  

The special Mass which Cardinal Keith O'Brien will celebrate for the victims of the Indian Ocean disaster in St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday 2 January at 7.30pm will also be attended by Sikh, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist members of Edinburgh's Interfaith Council.  

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Allison Elliot will participate, together with the Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, the Right Rev. Brian Smith.  

In his homily, Cardinal O'Brien will call for long term development aid to the region and urge Scots to ask their government to Plan peace not war .  

The full text of the Cardinal's sermon is shown below.  

You are invited to send a photographer/reporter/camera crew to St. Mary's Cathedral, Broughton Street (Top of Leith Walk), Edinburgh on Sunday at 7.30pm.  

ENDS  


Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  




HOMILY FOLLOWING ON DISASTER IN SOUTH ASIA  

PREACHED BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN  

SUNDAY 2 JANUARY 2005 AT 7.30 PM  

ST MARY S CATHEDRAL, EDINBURGH  


Introduction:  

I extend a very warm welcome to you all to our Cathedral this evening. That welcome is extended not only to my own Catholic parishioners within the City of Edinburgh, but to peoples of other Christian faiths, to members of other faith communities in our country, and indeed to all peoples of goodwill, who have gathered here this evening.  

We are united in our prayer together as we are united in our times of silence. We are united in our beliefs in one all powerful God, and we acknowledge the presence among us of those who do not share those beliefs. We are united in our awareness of our common humanity, aware also that our fellow human beings in other parts of the world have suffered and are suffering in ways that are almost beyond belief.  

Need to gather together:  

The media has portrayed in vivid detail something of the tragedy which has happened to our sisters and brothers in another part of the world. That tragedy has come home to us “ as some of our own communities have been and are on holiday in the beautiful lands where people are now suffering. But that tragedy has come home to us quite simply because of the realisation that fellow human beings are suffering in a particularly horrible way. Many messages of sympathy have gone to the peoples of the lands most affected by this disaster “ particularly to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand; but we are aware also that this devastating event has hit other countries too, among them; Somalia, Burma, the Maldives, Malaysia, Tanzania, the Seychelles, Bangladesh and Kenya.  

To them all, we extend our sympathy. I have taken the opportunity to communicate with the consular representatives and diplomatic missions of those countries which have been most seriously affected. Further, as President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, I have also communicated with the Presidents of the Bishops Conferences of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand “ while extending my prayers and those of my people to everyone who has been affected in any way.  



Realisation of the extent of the calamity:  

Perhaps initially on hearing news bulletins on 26 December 2004, we did not realise the seriousness of the situation in the Indian Ocean. However, the full impact of the calamity caused by the sub sea earthquake and then by the tsunami off the Indonesian coast has now dawned on us and we realise something of the terrible loss of life and the sufferings which have taken place.  

A disaster such as has just been experienced, is one the like of which has been seen in our world before but rarely. We are told that the earliest tsunami-type wave was described as hitting the Northern Aegean Sea in 479 BC; and as recently as 1868 about 25,000 people were killed when a huge wave struck Chile while up to 1,500 died after a tsunami hit Ecuador and Colombia in 1906. We are told that as a result of this recent tsumani, there have been at the latest reckoning over 125,000 deaths. In a statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka, they record: A tragedy of this magnitude has not struck our country since the time of Vihara Maha Devi recorded in the Mahawamsa “ and similar statements are made by leaders of the community in each of the countries affected.  
It is heartening however, to realise that in statements which have been issued peoples have been asked to turn back to God more than ever before. In that same statement which I have just quoted, the Bishops of Sri Lanka state: We are consoled by the Holy Scriptures (Psalms145-146) that we are not abandoned to ourselves and that the vicissitudes of our day are not dominated by chaos or fate and so we call on our people to take courage and face the situation bravely. We ask all our people to go to the help of those affected irrespective of differences in ethnicity or religion. We are all brothers and sisters and in this tragedy we should display our love for each other .  

Response to need for help:  

I am sure that the peoples of the countries which have suffered must take some consolation in the response throughout the world to their suffering, caused by our global realisation that we are all members of the human family. As the Sri Lankan Bishops stated: In t.his tragedy we display our love for each other .  

So many individuals, peoples of goodwill, of the Christian faith, of other faiths and of no faith want to give and are giving. Having visited countries in the Third World which have suffered before “ last year, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and preparing now to depart for Guatemala and Chiapas in Mexico prior to our visit in two months time to Ethiopia “ I assure you that every little helps. I ask you if you are able to continue your donations, sending money to those agencies which have been approved by our Churches and countries nationally and whose contact numbers are available from the media.  

And I take this opportunity to thank the staff and volunteers of our own Catholic Aid Agency (SCIAF) for their speedy response and ongoing appeal and for their tireless campaigning in the cause of global fairness and justice.  



I am sure I speak for very many people when I indicate that we appreciate the increased sums of money being given by our own Government and by other Governments in the first world. Aid must be given and it must be given immediately on a very large scale. Immediate response is of primary importance.  

As we give now in response to the immediate problems on an ever increasing scale, we must also look to the future. At this time I take the opportunity of urging Western Governments to look beyond the immediate imperatives of disaster relief and to help countries like those affected to rebuild and develop their infrastructure so that they are better able to cope with the ravages of natural disasters in future and ultimately provide higher long-term standards of living for their populations.  

As an editorial in the Jakarta Post said just three days ago;  
It is good that our efforts may have saved a baby today, but are we not condemning that child to destitution if we cannot provide him with something worth growing up for, other than life in a rundown refugee camp?  

Further we must realise that what has happened in South East Asia does not mean that the poverty and destitution of other countries in the world has suddenly stopped. No “ the poverty in so many other countries in the Third World still grinds on “ in Africa, in Central and South America, in other parts of Asia. We must work and we must urge our Governments to work to ensure that disasters such as have just been experienced by our world and poverty which we tend to take for granted in so many parts of the world must become a part of our history.  

I think what has affected us most in our own country of Scotland is that this disaster has occurred at a time when we have so much. We think of the extravagance of expenditure at Christmas and New Year and we realise the tragedies of those people who had little and now that little has been taken from them in this natural disaster.  
Conclusion:  
I conclude my words by asking you to realise that perhaps at this present time the peoples of the world are experiencing a solidarity such as we have rarely experienced before. Peoples of different races, colours, beliefs, ethnic origins are experiencing something of our common humanity. Those who have are giving in a way such as perhaps has never been experienced before to those who are classed among the ˜have-nots .  

Perhaps the call of the ordinary peoples of the world at this time at the beginning of the year 2005 is quite simply: Plan peace and not war . Perhaps the call going out to our leaders at the forthcoming G8 Summit in Scotland in July is a call containing those same words: Plan peace and not war  

Perhaps the call from the lips of all peoples of goodwill in Scotland and throughout the world is quite simply that same call: Plan peace not war .  


We can and we must make our world a better place for us all in which to live. We must make the brotherhood and sisterhood of all peoples a reality “ not only in times of tragedy, but at all times as we seek ongoing peace in our world.  

Plan peace not war .  

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