WASHINGTON (June 8, 2004) -- The floods and landslides that erased entire villages in Haiti and the Dominican Republic two weeks ago should be met with an outpouring of solidarity and charity, according to the chairman of the bishops' Committee on the Church in Latin America.
"The power of the floods that surged through the towns along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic obliterated towns, decimated families, and left behind sorrow and anguish," said Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz of Chicago. "The bishops of the United States, and the entire Church here, mourn the loss of the victims and stand in solidarity with those who must now rebuild their lives."
Daniel Lizárraga, executive director of the Secretariat for the Church in Latin America at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, witnessed the devastation in Haiti and met with members of the Catholic bishops' conference there. He assured the conference officials that in addition to humanitarian aid being provided by various organizations, the USCCB Committee on the Church in Latin America would provide assistance to address the pastoral needs of the Church in Haiti at this time.
"In these situations, victims of natural disasters seek spiritual solace from the Church in addition to physical and material aid. We hope to support the pastoral efforts that provide a sense of hope at this time of tragedy and suffering", stated Lizárraga.
"The devastation is terrible," said Lizárraga, "and compounds the challenges already faced by the political, social and religious structures of Haiti as they respond to crushing poverty that is already present in the poorest nation in the hemisphere. Our faith calls us to stand in solidarity with them."
Lizárraga said the bishops' Committee on the Church in Latin America is collecting donations to assist the Catholic Church in Haiti to meet the pastoral needs of parishes and dioceses in affected areas. Contributions can be sent to:
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202-541-3050, Fax: 202-541-3460
Lizárraga also said donations for the humanitarian needs are being coordinated by Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' relief and development agency. Contributions for humanitarian needs can be made by contacting CRS directly at 410-625-2220.