Past hurricane victims look to gulf oil spill with 'great anxiety,' archbishop says

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Containment boom is deployed at the Breton National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard.

Responding to the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Catholic archbishops in the region have called for prayers for those affected. Many people are watching the spill with “great anxiety,” one prelate notes, because they have barely recovered from Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina and don’t need “a man-made disaster.”

The spill began last week when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, creating three leaks in a pipe and killing eleven people.

The oil company BP has been trying without success to activate a valve on the well to cut the flow of oil, reports. Meanwhile, the oil slick had made landfall in parts of Lousiana as of Friday afternoon.

The Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond in a Friday letter to all the parishes of his archdiocese asked for prayers for all the victims of the blast. He encouraged prayers for those who died, those injured, and their families, that “God may give them peace in their time of crisis.”

“Pray too for those working to clean up the oil spill and for those that will be adversely affected by the effects of the spill.”

“At these times of tragedy, it is important that we remain focused on God’s love and that we are witnesses of hope,” Archbishop Aymond added.

A Catholic prayer service for those affected is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Breton Marina Sound in Hopedale, Louisiana, according to the archdiocese.

The spill threatens the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile spoke about the oil spill in a Friday phone interview EWTN News.

He said people in Alabama are watching the developing spill “very intensely” and with “great anxiety.”

“Our fishing industry and tourism industry are just recovering after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina,” he said. “People have been able to rebuild lives and livelihoods. This can cause considerable damage.”

“We hope that it is not going to,” he added. “People in the seafood industry have had a number of natural disasters. They do not need a man-made disaster.”

He pointed out that the summer tourist season is about to begin, during which hotels and other rental properties are usually filled with tourists.

“We are hoping that the tourists will still come. It remains to be seen whether the oil will impact our beautiful beaches.

“Otherwise the damage to people’s livelihoods and to the environment will be considerable.”

Asked about how the archdiocese will reach out to those affected, he told EWTN News the archdiocese in the past has given “considerable help” to those affected by hurricanes.

“If people suffer financially because of this man-made situation we’ll do our best to assist people.”

Addressing Catholics and the United States as a whole, he implored, “Please join with us in praying that the efforts underway right now will be successful in containing this oil spill.”

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