Pope’s gift to earthquake survivors insufficient at best

During his annual Easter eve sermon ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (‘to the city and the world’), Pope Benedict XVI included the plight of Italy’s own suffering’ – earthquake victims – in the mass prayers.

Last Monday’s earthquake caused an estimated 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in damages, left 294 people dead and 40,000 homeless – half of whom are currently residing in tents – according to the British Broadcast Corp.

Pope Benedict is reported to have offered his consolation with prayer and gifts of Easter chocolates to the survivors.

While the pope’s kind gesture may provide comfort in the spiritual world, perhaps it would have been better for him to offer those living in harsh reality food, funds or shelter – pretty much anything else other than what amounts to little more than a diet of refined sugar, cocoa and dairy.

If the message was to be more symbolic than material, the pope could have even offered – in place of candies – a provision of the Vatican’s own wine to commune those Italians who were left without cathedrals as well as homes.

The BBC reported as many as 67 tents were converted to make-shift cathedrals for Easter mass. The pope was not reported to have visited any.

As one of the greatest tragedies in Italy’s recent history has left its people homeless and hungry, Pope Benedict instead concentrated on conflict abroad, specifically addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the New York Times, the pope said of the Middle East that ‘reconciliation – difficult, but indispensable – is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence.’

Thus, on the very day the pope had the undivided attention of every Catholic he could influence for the better with just a word, he chooses instead to address a conflict in a land of Muslims and Jews – a realm where he has absolutely no moral authority.

Let’s hope that moral authorities around the world exercise better judgment by calling for and providing peace within their own communities first, utilizing the full of their influences.

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