Cardinal authorizes collection for earthquake relief in Syria, Turkey

BRAINTREE -- In the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey on Feb. 6, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley is calling for a special collection to be taken in all parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston the weekend of Feb. 18-19. These funds will be used to support relief efforts, such as providing safe shelter, food, clean water, and hygiene supplies in the impacted areas.

As of the time of publication, the death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake is reported to have surpassed 20,000 and continues to rise.

According to Catholic Relief Services, "across affected areas in both countries, apartment buildings and schools have been leveled. For Syrians, the damage took place in areas already devastated by years of war. In Turkey, the airports and the high roads of Anatolia are closed, and most hospitals are unusable. Schools have been closed across the country."

In a Feb. 8 statement on the USCCB website, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, called upon the faithful to pray for those impacted by the earthquake, and to "give generously" to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which are working to provide emergency humanitarian relief. He also called upon the U.S. government to provide assistance and to work in conjunction with Catholic aid organizations to help "those most in need."

Father William Joy, assistant vicar for administration and special assistant to the vicar general, shared the news about the Archdiocese of Boston's special collection in a Feb. 9 letter to parish leaders.

"On behalf of the cardinal, thank you for your attentiveness to this important collection and expression of our solidarity with those who are suffering," he said.

A separate announcement the same day the archdiocese said, "Cardinal Seán is grateful to the parishes of the Archdiocese for their expression of solidarity with those who are suffering. The Archdiocese has a long track record of stepping up in times of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis to help people all over the world recover and rebuild."