Dear People of God:
Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Year after year since then, with each rainy season, the lahar spewed by the volcano has continued to cascade down the
mountain sides. A number of barrios have already been lost, totally covered over by the still unmitigated flow of lahar.
Now the historic town of Bacolor threatens to disappear completely, and in the years to
come, unless the flow stops--or is somehow brought under control--other towns of Zambales and Tarlac, of Pampanga especially, will also go under.
These last four years have been a time of unalloyed suffering for the
people affected by the recurring disaster that is Mt. Pinatubo. But always--and firmly--they have held on to a hope that their suffering will come to an end, their once flourishing land spared further devastation.
With this year's ravaging floods--fresh flows of lahar relentlessly piling up on past deposits in an ever rising tide--the people who live along the Pasig-Potrero river are now being forced to the bleak realization that
they will have to hang their hope on something other than the final cessation of the lahar flow. Already they are beginning, however reluctantly, to look elsewhere for their salvation.
We, their brothers and
sisters in the more fortunate parts of the islands, have to be, simply because we are Christians, part of their salvation. In the years to come, even now in fact, they will need our helping hand more than
ever--our support, our sympathy, our concern.
All that, let us give to them in generous measure. Let us share with them whatever we can of the blessings we ourselves have received from the hands of our
compassionate Father in Heaven. Let us be in solidarity with them as the Holy Father himself has shown himself to be in the help he has extended to them as they continue to suffer and to strive for a better future
for themselves and their children.
Towards this end, we are asking our diocesan Social Action Centers to put themselves and their facilities at the disposal of you, the People of God.
The Lord's merciful love be with you always.
For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines:
+OSCAR V. CRUZ, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
December 1, 1995