Rome — According to one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, the Jan. 15 eruption of a massive volcano in Tonga is a painful reminder of how, despite scientific advances and immense resources, there has been very little collective action to prevent natural catastrophes.
“Even in the face of the formidable forces of catastrophic events such as those of Tonga, the resources dedicated for the study and prevention remain minimal compared to those devoted to the study of increasingly deadly weapons and sophisticated weapons,” Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny stated during a prayer service to Tonga on January 24.
The international Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome organized the prayer service.
The cardinal then quoted Francis’ 2015 eco-encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” declaring that “never before has humanity had such power over itself, and nothing guarantees that it’ll use it well.”
In the 10 days following the eruption of a volcano and subsequent tsunami that ravaged the isolated Polynesian Islands of Tonga, an estimated 20,000 people were affected by the tsunami. 84%The disaster’s effect on its telecommunications system has meant that the island, which is difficult to reach, has had only limited contact with its neighbors.
Czerny, who is interim head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that prayer aims to break the isolation and reduce the distances. “The Tonga catastrophe shocks us for its enormity and for the sudden unleashing the forces of nature which, unexpectedly, makes us all smaller, more fragile.”
Czerny stated that many of the Earth’s residents have struggled for food and water and have been forced from their homes.
The cardinal continued to reflect on the pandemic. It, like the devastation caused natural disasters, has shown that “we have also fooled ourselves into believing that we are almost invincible, that we can dominate nature, and the world, as it were our own work, and not God’s.”
As he finished his reflection, the cardinal prayed to Tonga and its people, as well as all men and women, “so the resources of science may be used to lift peoples out of poverty, disease, natural catastrophes, and climate-change.”
“May our prayers overcome all distances, expressing our belonging to the one God family, in which we all are welcomed as adopted kids,” he prayed. “Despite our distance, we share a common destiny. We are children of one Father, and we are all brothers or sisters.