Photo Credit: Mario1952 / Wikimedia
[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, has called on Anglicans around the world to pray for the people of Italy and Myanmar after separate earthquakes struck the two communities yesterday (Wednesday). Official figures put the death toll in Italy at 247 – a figure that is expected to rise as the search operation in central Italy around the town of Amatrice continues. The death toll in Myanmar is much smaller – with four people confirmed to have died.
Archbishop Kwong has written letters of condolence to the leader of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, and to the Primate of the Church of the Province of Myanmar, the Most Revd Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, asking them to “assure the victims of the Anglican Communion’s solicitude.”
Archbishop Kwong is calling on Anglicans around the world to “grieve with the people of the two countries and to pray earnestly for the victims, the injured, and the deceased” and to “ask the Lord to grant peace and consolation to the residents in the afflicted areas as they step out of the shadow and rebuild their homes.”
Canon Jonathan Boardman, a C of E priest based in Rome, said that congregations in Assisi and Macerata are close to the quake’s epicentre; and that a visiting choir from St Mary’s Church in Maldon, Essex were closer to the area of devastation. All are reported to be safe.
“On the day of the quake itself [the Maldon choir] sang Choral Evensong at the Sanctuary of Santa Rita in Cascia and remembered the casualties and injured in prayer,” he said. “Our own congregations have checked in and individuals all seem safe and sound.
“Everyone has suffered from real shock and sadness at the scale of the tragedy, however, and those with long memories and long associations here think back to the devastation at Assisi in 1997.
“Italians are remarkably resilient in the face of these circumstances and their highly developed structures from Civil Protection over and above the emergency services swing rapidly and effectively into action. There will be time in the future for our churches to make financial contributions to the disaster fund as we have done in the past – but for now we are all praying for the survivors and those who are still desperately seeking them.”
Pope Francis cancelled his usual address at the weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square yesterday, and instead led the congregation in prayer; telling them that he was “deeply saddened” to hear the Mayor of Amatrice – the town at the epicenter of the earthquake – say that “the town no longer exists” and that children were among the dead.