The Catholic Church of India has expressed its grief at the loss of life and and property, and injury caused by a particularly severe dust storm on Thursday in parts of the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“The Catholic Church condoles the death of our brothers and sisters who were caught unaware as nature’s fury took hold of large parts of North India,” said press release on Saturday signed by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), and Fr. Paul Moonjely, the Executive Director of Caritas India, the social arm of the Catholic Church in India.
“We express our solidarity with the injured and the suffering,” they wrote.
The Home Ministry said the storm also caused eight deaths in southern Telangana state and another eight deaths in northern Uttarakhand and Punjab states.
The CBCI and Caritas said they are already out in the field trying to help needy people, and offered to join hands with the efforts of the government and other agencies in relief operations.
The Catholic Church made it an occasion to invite all to reflect on the issue of climate change, which is manifesting itself in natural disasters, as pointed out by Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si”.
Please find below the full text of the press release:
CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA (CBCI)
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India expresses its profound grief and sorrow at the terrible and unimaginable havoc wrecked by the severe dust storm that has ravaged parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is reported that more than 150 people have lost their lives and hundreds others are injured and thousands left without shelter. The damage has been the worst seen in 20 years, according to officials with India's Meteorological department. They have also issued warnings that more bad weather is to come, with severe thunderstorms expected in several places in northern India over the next few days.
The Catholic Church condoles the death of our brothers and sisters who were caught unaware as nature’s fury took hold of large parts of North India. We express our solidarity with the injured and the suffering.
The Catholic Church is already out in the field through her Wing of Mercy and Charity, Caritas India. While trying to help people without discrimination of faith, or class, wherever it is possible for us to reach out, Caritas India, for more precise operations, is specially concentrating on the districts of Agra in Uttar Pradesh and Jayour in Rajasthan. We appreciate the efforts being put in by the Government and its agencies to provide immediate help and relief to the affected and extend our hand of partnership to the Government. Even as people are trying to build up their lives, we are concerned about the health situation in the areas affected. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference expresses its ardent desire to work with the Government and all like-minded agencies to provide relief and help in all possible ways to the suffering people.
This is also an occasion for all of us to think and reflect seriously on the issue of climate change, as indicated by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si and which is more and more manifesting itself through natural Disasters. According to experts, while dust storms are quite common in North India, the extraordinary dust and thunderstorms are connected to the rapid rate of desertification in several Indian states. The environment ministry says a quarter of the country's land is undergoing desertification - while independent experts put the figure much higher. Increasing desertification would mean more intense and damaging dust storms. Environmentalists have predicted that droughts will become more severe in this part of South Asia with climatic changes.
The Catholic Church invites men and women of good will everywhere to join it and others in providing succour and assistance wherever needed. If you wish to join us you may get in touch with Caritas India at firstname.lastname@example.org or our person in the field Mr. Anjan Bag at 9831065890.
We pray for all those affected and also for all who are actively or through contributions helping the people in dire distress. May the Almighty bless us with his abundant graces and mercies.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
Fr. Paul Moonjely