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Church \ Church in Africa

Bishops of Sierra Leone console nation in pain

Fr. John Nat Tucker leads a service at the Saint Paul Catholic Church in Freetown days after the Regent mudslide  - AFP

Fr. John Nat Tucker leads a service at the Saint Paul Catholic Church in Freetown days after the Regent mudslide - AFP

21/08/2017 15:04

(Radio Vatican) As the death toll keeps rising, in the wake of Sierra Leone’s devastating Regent mudslide, the Catholic Bishops of the country have reached out to console a nation which has had more than its fair share of tragedy.

The latest death toll now stands at more than 500. It is bound to rise as there are still hundreds of missing persons. The mudslide took place in the mountain town of Regent, on the outskirts of Freetown. Entire informal settlements were wiped out overnight. There is now urgent need of food, shelter, clean water, sanitation and healthcare.

“The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been praying for Sierra Leone and has assured us of his spiritual closeness at this time of terrible natural disaster. Our hearts and prayers go out to the bereaved families, and all those who have been made homeless, as well as those who have been thrown into abject poverty by this disaster,” the Bishops’ Message of Hope reads.

There is also the painful recognition that perhaps this ecological disaster could have been avoided.

“The encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si', compels our collective consciences to foster true ecological conversion and to live at peace with nature. Sierra Leoneans have the responsibility to care for 'our common home.’ We cannot waver; now is the time to take this road!” the Bishops say.

On Sunday, 20 August, the Sierra Leone Inter-Religious Council held special prayer services in memory of those killed in the mudslide and flooding.  The Council also organised special prayers and recitals in Mosques on Friday 18 August.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Koroma has declared seven days of mourning in the country and appealed for help.

Below is the full Message of Hope, from the Catholic Bishops of Sierra Leone.

Email: engafrica@vatiradio.va

 

A MESSAGE OF HOPE IN THE WAKE  OF THE RECENT  FLOODS, LANDSLIDES AND  MUDSLIDES IN FREETOWN

To our beloved Brothers and Sisters and People of Goodwill.

We, the Catholic Bishops of Sierra Leone, wish to add our voice in extending heartfelt and sincere condolences to President Ernest Bai Koroma, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, and his Government, the People and Citizens of a nation in mourning, and to families and relatives who have lost their loved ones during these days of flooding, landslide and mudslides in Freetown. We express our sentiments of consolation and hope to all during this challenging period in our nation's history.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been praying for Sierra Leone and has assured us of his spiritual closeness at this time of terrible natural disaster. Our hearts and prayers go out to the bereaved families, and all those who have been made homeless, as well as those who have been thrown into abject poverty by this disaster.

The encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Sì, compels our collective consciences to foster true ecological conversion and to live at peace with nature. Sierra Leoneans have the responsibility to care for 'our common home". We cannot waver; now is the time to take this road!

We urge charity organizations and all competent authorities to be proactive in responding to the needs our compatriots who are now at the mercy of "good will" and cheerful givers.

The Catholic Church, through her charity arm, Caritas, in collaboration with the Catholic Development Agencies, will collaborate and support Government in her efforts to curtail the sufferings of our compatriots.

We  continue to pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of all victims.

For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Sierra Leone

 

Most Rev. Charles A.M. Campbell

Bishop of Bo and President of the Conference

 

21/08/2017 15:04