The pictures coming in from earthquake-struck Syria and Turkey are beyond devastating, beyond horrifying! The number of lives lost increases almost by the minute (6,200 at 7pm Rome time). No age is spared. People are trapped and perhaps dying as I write. No building is spared – homes, stores, places of worship, school, hospitals (12 at last count!). And the bone-shaking, bitter cold spares no one either.

I cannot even conceive of having to live through such destruction, the terror and horror of buildings collapsing around me, of ash and soot and dirt and pieces of cement and bricks flying through the air. Causing further deaths and destruction!

I cannot imagine wondering what it is like to need a bed, food, running water, sanitary services, medical care, heat.

I know that personally I’d need not just a helping hand but a hug!

Among the agencies jumping in immediately to help the quake victims is Caritas Internationalis. The Red Cross and other aid agencies are already en route to the stricken areas as well and, because the Catholic Church is always on the front line in such moments, I can imagine parishes around the world asking for financial donations as well as clothes, etc. to send on to Syria and Turkey.

Following is one story from Turkey, from the apostolic vicar of Anatolia. I’ve been to Turkey a number of times and always enjoyed some of the world’s most stunning scenery in Anatolia, Cappadocia and southern Turkey where we find, of course, Ephesus and Mary’s House among other historical and religious sites.Let’s help where and how we can, above all with prayers. Never underestimate the power of prayer!


Bishop Paolo Bizzetti, apostolic vicar of Anatolia, describes the reality on the ground following the two devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria, saying people have united in faith amid the tragedy.

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

The situation in Turkey and Syria following Monday’s two devastating earthquakes is getting worse and worse.

Bishop Paolo Bizzatti, the Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia in Turkey, offered that confirmation of the situation on the ground in his role as the President of Caritas in the area.

Bishop Bizzetti also confirmed reports of people sleeping on the streets, in sub-zero temperatures, explaining that even those with shelter have neither electricity nor water.

Despite the difficulty, he added, “people are uniting in solidarity”.

Poorest pay the highest price

Bishop Bizzetti went into detail about some of the thousands of people who have been affected by the distaster. “Of course, the poorest are the ones who pay the highest price,” he said.

The affected area is home to many refugees: Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. “Southern Turkey is full of refugees from various countries who have fled terrible situations,” he noted.

For refugees, Bishop Bizzetti said, “it’s a tragedy within a tragedy”, while for those who are not refugees, this disaster marks “a huge turning point in their lives.”

As always in these circumstances there is a sense of bewilderment, confusion, and loss, while the little hope people had now suddenly seems lost.

However, said Bishop Bizzetti, solidarity has been pouring in with Caritas Turkey seeking to provide life-saving aid.

“It is difficult to receive the aid necessary given the state of the roads,” he said, adding that Caritas needs to make sure it organises the aid properly in order to avoid the common experience where “a lot arrives on the first two days, after which you are in a situation of hardship.”

“Our priority is to raise funds in such a way that we can then methodically space the aid,” he said

We are in God’s hands

We thank God, concluded the Bishop, that “the people are people of faith, and there is a strong sense of being in God’s hands.

Even on Monday, after the earthquakes, local communities “celebrated the Eucharist; people are praying, and their faith is a great help.”

ALSO THIS: 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. Pontifical Mission Societies launches fund for quake victims in Turkey, Syria – Vatican News