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SECAM Expresses Solidarity with People of God in Madagascar Following Cyclone Batsirai

Some people displaced by Cyclone Batsirai. Credit: Caritas Madagascar

The leadership of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has, in a collective statement, expressed solidarity with the people of God in Madagascar following the “terrible cyclone Batsirai” that hit the country last month.

On February 11, tropical cyclone Batsirai hit Madagascar killing at least 124 people, Reuters reported. Four days later, at least 14 people were killed, and thousands forced to seek shelter with the state disaster relief agency after tropical storm Dumako hit the Indian Ocean Island nation.

In their collective statement shared with ACI Africa Friday, March 4, officials of SECAM express their spiritual closeness with their brother Bishops and the victims of the cyclones in Madagascar.

“We, your brother bishops, representing the episcopate of all the Regions of the continent, take the opportunity of this seminar organized by the SECAM Commission for Evangelization here in Nairobi to express to you our deepest sympathy in the face of the great natural disaster which has just struck your country,” SECAM leadership says in the statement dated February 24.

Representatives of the forum that brings together Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar add, “Indeed, it is with deep consternation that we all received the shocking news of the terrible cyclone Batsirai, which dramatically ravaged a large part of Madagascar and the islands of the region at the beginning of this month of February 2022, leaving behind it a major disaster with notably dozens of deaths and massive destruction of property.”

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“At this very trying time that you are going through with all the people entrusted to your pastoral care, we wish to express to you our great fraternal solidarity. Saint Paul rightly affirms that in the Church, the Body of Christ of which we are members, when one member suffers, all the other members suffer with him,” SECAM officials say.

They add, “It is this deep communion in Christ that leads us to tell you that your suffering is also ours. We bear it with you.”

“But we also and above all want to share with you, in our common faith in Jesus Christ as the victor over death, this unshakeable conviction that nothing will separate us from the love of God manifested in Jesus Christ our Savior,” the Catholic Bishops say in their collective message signed by SECAM Second Vice President, Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula.

They pray “for the eternal rest of our brothers and sisters who died in this disaster, and for all the other victims.”

“May the Lord, our Counselor, console all his people in Madagascar and the adjacent islands and revive in them our great hope which is in God; that great hope which surpasses our human hopes, and which will never be disappointed,” SECAM leadership implores.

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The representatives of the Catholic Bishops in Africa add, “We pray especially for you, our brother bishops, whose daily task is to strengthen the hope of this afflicted people. May the living God make your work fruitful so that the joy of hope and compassion for your people may prevail over the sadness of trial.”

“Dear brothers in the episcopate, we ask you to accept this message as an expression of our profound fraternal communion in the great family of God in which we journey together in faith, hope and charity towards the eternal Kingdom,” SECAM leadership says in the statement circulated March 4.

In a February 19 telegram sent to Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of cyclones in island nation.

“Having learned with great sorrow of the wounds that have once again struck the island of Madagascar, through repeated cyclones, floods and the destruction of houses, Pope Francis expresses his prayerful communion with all those affected by these natural disasters,” Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Cardinal Parolin said in the Telegram message.

He added in reference to Pope Francis, “Deeply saddened by these events, he expresses his profound solidarity with those affected by this tragedy and prays for the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and their homes.”

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“The Holy Father offered his encouragement to the civil authorities and the rescue services, and as a token of comfort, he gladly invokes divine blessings on all,” the Vatican-based Cardinal said.