As new aid from Pope Francis arrives in Turkey on Saturday morning, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, tells Vatican News the Holy See’s commitment to those suffering from the catastrophic earthquakes that have claimed more than 45,000 lives in Turkey and Syria.
By Benedetta Capelli
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Pope’s Almoner and the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, is bringing Pope Francis’ newest package of humanitarian aid to the quake-struck population in Turkey as an “immediate commitment” to “a suffering people.”
In the Crescent country, the 6 February earthquake has left more than 39,600 dead, even if there have been various small miracles, as people continue to be found alive under the rubble.
On 16 February, Pope Francis met with Türkiye’s new Ambassador, Ufuk Ulutaş, for the presentation of his credential letters, during which the Holy Father expressed his closeness “to the noble Turkish people.”
The Pope asked about the people’s most urgent needs, and entrusted the task to the Dicastery for the Service of Charity.
“An hour after the meeting with the Holy Father,” the Dicastery’s Prefect, Cardinal Krajewski, told Vatican News, “I met with the ambassador who explained to me what they needed.”
Commitment to a country on its knees
The Ambassador’s list, he recalled, consisted of canned food, such as rice and tuna, but also diapers and many other materials which can withstand the weather, especially the cold.
“Immediately,” Cardinal Krajewski stressed, “everyone in the Vatican got busy preparing, in a single day, ten pallets of foodstuffs loaded onto a truck and destined for Fiumicino airport.” The destination of the Pope’s gift was a warehouse in Turkey.
Volunteers and airport staff worked tirelessly to arrange the cargo that will arrive in Istanbul on Saturday.
“In the Gospel, it always says today, not tomorrow. When Jesus performed miracles, He did them immediately. He did not say in a week or in a while..”
Therefore, Cardinal Krajewski said, “we provided immediately, thanks to the Vatican car park, donations, with so many people helping.”
“In 24 hours everything was done,” he said, stressing that it was done with the conviction that “love without charity does not exist.”
Gugerotti in Syria
At the same time, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, began his mission among the earthquake victims in Syria, where the quake has claimed more than 5,800 lives.
Archbishop Gugerotti has also traveled to Turkey to express the Pope’s closeness to those suffering from the tragedy.