Devastating earthquake wreaks havoc in Syria and Turkey Devastating earthquake wreaks havoc in Syria and Turkey  (AFP or licensors)

Pontifical Mission Societies launches fund for quake victims in Turkey, Syria

As Pope Francis continues to express his concern for Turkey and Syria following two massive earthquakes, the Pontifical Mission Societies launches a fund to offer concrete assistance to people suffering their effects.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis renewed his closness to the people of Türkiye and Syria on Tuesday with a tweet expressing his closeness in "the midst of this appalling tragedy."

“I remain close with all my heart to the people affected by the earthquake in #Türkiye and #Syria. I continue to pray for those who have lost their lives, as well as the injured, family members, and rescuers. May our concrete aid sustain them in the midst of this appalling tragedy.”

Two earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey early on Monday, devastating wide areas in the country and in neighboring Syria. The quake toppled hundreds of buildings and killed thousands of people

The death toll has already reached 5,000, with those figures expected to grow significantly.

Already on Monday, the Pope sent two telegrammes to Turkey and Syria to offer his condolences, asking the Apostolic Nuncios, Archbishop Marek Solczynski in Turkey and Cardinal Mario Zenari in Syria, to send his spiritual closeness.

Pontifical Mission Societies' support

On the same day, the PMS announced their latest initiative to help the earthquake victims.

To provide immediate relief to the families that suffered catastrophic loss due to the earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria on Monday morning, the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States has opened the Earthquake Aid for Turkey and Syria Fund.

Proceeds from this fund will support missionary priests, religious women and lay missionaries on the ground providing assistance to those impacted by the disaster, defined by Bishop Antoine Audo, SJ, Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, in Syria, as a “tremendous bomb.”

'Days ahead will be critical'

The US National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Monsignor Kieran Harrington, noted, “While it is too early to know the full extent of the devastation wrought by the earthquake, experience tells us that the days ahead will be critical.”

“Missionaries are ready to help, and the national director in Turkey," he said, "is already working with local NGOs to ensure that every dollar sent goes directly to those most impacted by this tragedy.”

The Pontifical Mission Societies USA will distribute grants through Catholic dioceses and trusted partner organizations to ensure that the funds fully benefit the immediate and ongoing needs of communities impacted by this devastating event.

Resources essential to alleviate human suffering

Hundreds are still believed to be trapped under the rubble and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers search mounts of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

“In upcoming days, these numbers will continue to go up,” said Monsignor Harrington. “Our hope is that Catholics in the United States will respond generously, providing critical resources to alleviate human suffering.”

Donations to facilitate pastoral care can be made to the Earthquake Aid for Turkey and Syria Fund here.

Pontifical Mission Societies

The Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States work through local Bishops, churches, and missionary congregations to ensure that resources are distributed equitably and justly, based on the needs of individual Churches.

The money goes directly from the United States to the Bishops in the mission territories, allowing for a direct link between the two local Churches. 

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07 February 2023, 13:30