Friday, August 22, 2008

Pontiff Offers Monetary Support to Georgia

Pretty interesting that the Orthodox in Georgia are relying on aid from Catholics... [Where are the Russian Orthodox???]

Bishop Says Orthodox Edified by Pope's Concern

By Chiara Santomiero

TBILISI, Georgia, AUG. 22, 2008 ( Benedict XVI directed $120,000 to Caritas Georgia to help the humanitarian relief effort in the wake of the tiny nation's conflict with neighboring Russia.

The money and an accompanying note were sent to Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, apostolic administrator of Caucaso. The Pope's message expressed his hope that the contribution would give weight to the appeals he made during the Angelus addresses of Aug. 10 and 17.

Bishop Pasotta said that the Holy Father's mention of Georgia twice during the Angelus addresses have impressed the citizens of the nation.

"In a country of primarily Orthodox religion, [the fact that] the head of the Catholic Church should be concerned in such a determined way about the ongoing conflict, and that he keeps the Georgian people in his heart and prays for them, has caused a great impression," the prelate affirmed.

He added that the situation of the refugees -- which he numbered between 80,000 and 90,000 -- is dire, but that it was "lovely" to see families reaching out to those who "arrived suddenly, and who didn't even have a mattress to lie on."

Even after the ceasefire, Bishop Pasotta continued, "there still is tension. [People] cannot understand why, despite the agreements, everything is blocked and no one can go wherever he wishes."

Russia withdrew what may have been the last of its troops just today, exactly two weeks after they had arrived on their neighbor's soil in retaliation for a Georgian attack in the separatist territory of South Ossetia.

Meanwhile, Caritas has been assisting the humanitarian relief effort since almost the very beginning of the conflict Aug 7.

"Both the Georgian government and the Orthodox patriarchate have requested aid from the Catholic Church and we are doing everything possible, with a great spirit of collaboration," Bishop Pasotta affirmed.

Christian leaders, and Jewish and Muslim communities, have joined in an appeal for more humanitarian relief.

"There have been beautiful moments of encounter," the bishop said. "In situations such as this, it is important to feel united beyond differences of faith."

Nevertheless, the prelate hoped that aid would be ongoing.

"Now there is no lack of international aid, but the precarious situation threatens to last a long time. It is already said that the schools won't open because they are all occupied by refugees," he added. "It will be necessary to rebuild the houses and to see that everyone receives aid and that no one in need is forgotten. After seven or eight months, will Georgia be remembered?"

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