WASHINGTON (November 14, 2001) -- Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, today sent a message of support and solidarity to his counterpart at the Cuban bishops' conference in the wake of Hurricane Michelle which swept across Cuba last week. Approximately 260 of the U.S. bishops meeting here as part of the USCCB's semi-annual general assembly endorsed the letter.
The full text follows:
Archbishop Adolfo Rodríguez
Archbishop of Camaguey
President of the Cuban Bishops' Conference
To Archbishop Rodriguez and the Bishops of Cuba:
On behalf of the Bishops of the United States meeting in Washington at the annual fall session of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I write to assure you of our prayers for you, the Churches you shepherd and the people of Cuba as you face the difficult task of recovery from the devastation brought to your nation by last weekend's major storm, Hurricane Michelle.
After our own national tragedy of September 11th, you, the bishops of Cuba, assured us of your prayers and the prayers of your people for the victims of the terrorist attacks. This expression of solidarity was of great comfort to us and to our people at that time. We could not, therefore, be unmoved as the reports of the widespread damage of Hurricane Michelle continue to reach us.
These reports tell of the great human suffering occasioned by this storm in Cuba as well as in the countries of Central America.
Thanks to the common efforts of the Church in both our countries, we have been able to cooperate in showing solidarity with those in need. Catholic Relief Services, our Secretariat for the Church in Latin America and the efforts of several dioceses in the U.S. have given concrete expression to this solidarity. Through collaboration with the Caritas Cuba, we have been able to provide humanitarian assistance in effective and transparent ways. We hope that we can continue to be of assistance in this particular instance.
We pledge our continued solidarity with you, the Bishops of Cuba, as you seek ways of meeting the needs of people suffering because of this hurricane. May our prayers and our sharing of resources continue to be signs of both our affective and effective solidarity and therefore a sign of renewed hope for the people of Cuba.
While our respective governments do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, we pray that those in authority in both countries will not allow the lack of these formal ties to be an insurmountable barrier to a timely and effective assistance to the people whose needs for food, clothing and shelter require immediate attention.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, D.D.
Bishop of Galveston-Houston