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Priests healing quake wounds

LIMA, Peru (CNS): When it comes to dealing with disasters like the powerful earthquake that struck Peru’s southern coast on August 15, the Catholic Church has an advantage – the pastors know the people.

In responding to an emergency, “you build on your strengths”, said Aaron Skrocki, South American emergency program manager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the US bishops’ overseas humanitarian and development agency.

“Having a local (parish) community in place that knows the people better than any local government official does makes it much easier to get a response effort up and running.”

Mr Skrocki arrived in Peru the night after the earthquake and travelled on August 17 to Chincha, Pisco and Ica, the three cities nearest the epicentre.

The scene was chaotic immediately after the earthquake, which killed more than 500 people, injured more than 1000 and left at least 35,000 families homeless.

“There was a lack of coordination,” said Luis Cordoba, emergency co-ordinator for CRS in Peru.

CRS will work with Caritas Peru to provide essentials such as food, water, shelter and medicine.

Caritas Peru is the local affiliate of Caritas Internationalis, the international confederation of Catholic aid agencies. CRS is part of the Caritas network.

(Copyright Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.)

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