Just a quick note today about my guest on my weekend radio program, “Vatican Insider.” Join me for Part II of my conversation with Fr. Bill Petrie, pastor of St. Damien parish on the Hawaiian island of Molokai’i. We recently met in Honolulu to talk about his 25 years of work with Mother Teresa! 25 years! As you heard last week and will again this weekend, Fr. Bill has tons of insight and remarkable stories about this holy woman who will be declared a saint next weekend!!
THE EARTHQUAKE IN FACTS AND FIGURES
Some statistics about the central Italy August 24 earthquake from various Italian news sources:
- – 5400 aid workers/volunteers/rescuers in place
- – 267: death toll as of this morning (Aug. 26)
- – 387 wounded being treated in hospitals in Lazio, Umbria and Marche regions
- – 238 people have been pulled alive from the rubble, of whom 215 by firemen and 23 by Italy’s Alpine Rescue
- – 293 monuments comprising Italy’s cultural heritage have been destroyed
ANSA: Displaced survivors of the August 24 earthquake have occupied 2,100 of the 3,500 beds made available by the Civil Protection Department, officials said Friday. However that number is on the rise because area residents are still fleeing their homes as tremors continue in the area, Civil Protection Emergency chief Titti Postiglione told a press conference.
Sergio Pirozzi, Amatrice’s mayor, told ANSA that “Amatrice must be completely razed to the ground,” adding that there is not a single structure in the historic center than can be saved or restored. He said, “apart from the Roman church of St. Francis, all the rest is gone,” and repeated what he said Thursday: “We want to rebuild on the same spot, hopefully perhaps even with the same shape and aesthetics.”
(AP): Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has authorized a preliminary 50 million euros ($56.5 million) in emergency funding and ordered the cancellation of taxes for residents of quake-hit central Italy.
(ANSA): A religious service for those who died in the quake in Amatrice will be brought forward from Wednesday to Tuesday to enable Italian Premier Matteo Renzi to attend, Rieti Bishop Domenico Pompili said Friday. He said the service would be without coffins because it is not possible “to say when we will have all the bodies at our disposal since some have already been taken away by their families.” The Lazio town of Amatrice was the worst hit by Wednesday’s 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed at least 267 people, 207 of them in Amatrice.
(ANSA): London – Three British nationals and a Canadian reportedly died in the August 24 earthquake in central Italy. Sky News cited an official from the mountain village of Amatrice, which was flattened by the 6.2-magnitude quake that struck before dawn last Wednesday, as saying two adults and a teenage boy perished in the nearby hamlet of Sommati. The Daily Telegraph newspaper named the victims as 14-year-old Marcos Burnett, and Maria and William Henniker-Gotley, aged 51 and 55, family friends of the teenager’s parents. The Telegraph reported the UK Foreign Office confirmed the deaths and said in a statement: “(The victims’) families have paid tribute to the tireless work of the Italian rescue workers and hospital staff and expressed their gratitude for the love and support they have received from the Italian people”. Also on Friday, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion said one Canadian citizen perished in the quake. The identity of the person was released.
Domenica Primerano, president of the Italian Association of Ecclesiastical Museums (AMEI), has welcomed an invitation from Dario Franceschini, minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, to donate the revenue from museum entrance fees on Sunday, August 28 to the victims of the earthquake, or to chose another day if the museums is closed on Sundays. She also asked museums that were not members of AMEI to consider doing the same.
Pharmacists who are members of SIFO – the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacists – are helping the areas affected by the August 24 quake by offering all medicines and medical devices that are needed to help the large number of survivors currently undergoing medical care in area hospitals. These pharmacists work in the hospitals of those regions affected by the quake. SIFO president Marcello Pani said, “Our colleagues are working to guarantee extra pharmaceutical assistance and to give all the support necessary for the rescue operations.”
POPE FRANCIS OFFERS PRAYERS, CONCRETE SIGNS OF SOLIDARITY
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is accompanying the victims of Wednesday’s devastating earthquake with both prayer and concrete signs of solidarity.
Having already sent Vatican firefighters to the area, Pope Francis on Thursday sent a group of Vatican gendarmes to assist in rescue and relief operations, in coordination with Italy’s Civilian Protection agency.
Also on Thursday, the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass at the Casa Santa Marta for all those who are suffering on account of the earthquake. The Pope was joined at the Sacred Liturgy by a group of Poor Clares from the monastery of Santa Maria di Vallegloria, in Spello, Umbria, who themselves had been affected by an earthquake in 1997. The Poor Clares subsequently had to reside for 14 years in temporary housing. Speaking at the Mass, Pope Francis invited the nuns to “sow hope,” to share Christ with others both through prayer and with their lives. Jesus “is true wealth, even when we have nothing.”
Meanwhile, the Vatican firefighters sent to Amatrice were active in rescue efforts, helping to pull a young girl from the rubble. Unfortunately, other members of the girl’s family lost their lives in the quake. The firefighters’ also provided spiritual assistance to the victims, distributing rosaries and holy images blessed by Pope Francis.
Vatican doctors and nurses are also ready to depart for the earthquake zone as needed.
In the wake of the deadly quake on Wednesday that has killed more than 250 people, aftershocks continued to hamper relief efforts. Large aftershocks in the early hours of Friday brought down already cracked buildings, rattled residents and closed already clogged roads.
Firefighters and rescue crews using sniffer dogs worked in teams around the hard-hit areas in central Italy, pulling chunks of cement, rock and metal from mounds of rubble where homes once stood. Rescuers refused to say when their work would shift from saving lives to recovering bodies, noting that one person was pulled alive from the rubble 72 hours after the 2009 quake in the nearby town of L’Aquila.
WORLD TRADE CENTER HONORING QUAKE VICTIMS
(AP) – New York City’s World Trade Center is honoring the victims of the earthquake in Italy. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday directed the building’s 408-foot (124-meter) spire be lit in the colors of the country’s flag – green, white and red. Wednesday’s earthquake killed at least 250 people in Amatrice and other towns in central Italy.
In a statement, Cuomo extended his condolences to the victims and said New York stands ready to lend support.