The Catholic Church is responding with prayers and social services to assist Australians suffering during the bushfire crisis, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
“Australia is facing an unprecedented calamity as fire engulfs the land in many places,” Archbishop Coleridge said. “We have all seen the apocalyptic images, even if we are not in the areas most affected. Lives have been lost, homes and towns have been destroyed, smoke has shrouded large swathes of our country”
According to News Corp Australia, the fires have destroyed an area roughly the size of England, more than 10 times the area destroyed during last year’s Amazon fires. The Australian fires started in late July and have killed 20 people.
The response by the Church includes:
•The facilitation of a national network connecting people affected by the bushfires with people who can help with tasks such as preparing meals, clearing properties, rebuilding communities, as well as pastoral and counseling
•The distribution of special prayers and other resources for use in parishes, families and other Catholic
•Collaboration with key national agencies like Catholic Health Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, the National Catholic Education Commission and the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) to ensure as effective response as possible from the wider Catholic
•Cooperating with Catholic Religious Australia and religious institutes and their ministries.
•Parishes across the country taking up a special collection at Masses on the Australia Day weekend, with all funds to be donated to Vinnies’ bushfire.