2010 Fall General Assembly
Speeches / Addresses
New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, right, addresses members of the media at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. The bishops elected him president of the conference. At left is the newly elected vice presid ent, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Yousif Habash, head of the Newark, N.J.-based Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syrian Catholics, talks with Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington, Ky., during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. ( CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pray before the start of the second day of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, talks with Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president, during the U.S. bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix reacts to a discussion on social media at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz of Chicago, center, attends the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City stands with Charlene Harris of the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., as he reports on the work of the U.S. bishops' National Advisory Council Nov. 15 at the U.S. bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore. Harris chair s the advisory council. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, right, talks with Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Tod Brown, right, of Orange, Calif., greets Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., works on a laptop during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 15 in Baltimore. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for the start of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Bishop Michael R. Cote (center) of Norwich, Conn., applaud after an address by Cardinal Francis E. George, president of the conference, at the bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15 . (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addresses the U.S. bishops at the start of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
The One-Church Response
to the Haiti Earthquake
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell,
Chairman of the Committee on National Collections
Cardinal George, thank you for this opportunity to address the full body of bishops.
After the terrible tragedy of last January’s earthquake that devastated Haiti and buried almost 300,000 souls beneath badly built houses and buildings, something remarkable but unsurprising happened. In the face of great tragedy and at a time of great economic stress at home, Catholics across the country responded like they’ve never responded before. The morning after the quake, the offices and agencies represented here put in place a response plan. It started with a request from Cardinal George and Archbishop Dolan for a Special Collection for Haiti Relief to be taken up in all dioceses on the weekend after the quake for humanitarian aid and to rebuild ecclesial structures.
I can report that according to our most recent numbers $82.6 million was collected from 176 dioceses and eparchies.
Let’s just reflect on that: in one weekend the 18,500+ parishes in the United States gave more money for a National Collection than ever collected in a single collection. And they did it during Sunday Mass, connecting their devotion with their dedication.
In March, the Administrative Committee endorsed a proposal from the Committee on the National Collections and CRS to allocate 60% of the Special Collection to CRS for humanitarian assistance and 40% to the Subcommittee on Latin America for ecclesial needs.
The bishops you are about to hear from represent the breadth of the Church’s response. In the order that they will appear, they are Archbishop Wenski from the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America who is Chairman of the Haiti Advisory Group formed by that Subcommittee shortly after the earthquake, Archbishop Dolan from CRS, Bishop Hubbard from the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Wester from the Committee on Migration and Refugee Services. They show the organic and collaborative efforts that were initiated after the earthquake.
However they don’t represent the totality of the Church’s response. Many parishes and colleges have ties with Haiti going back years while others are planning on creating new ties. Our message is that working separately, we can do good things. However, working together we can bring about the genuine change that Haiti and its people need and long for.
And so we’re asking for your support to carry this message forward through your diocesan newspapers and other media, homilies, prayer services and memorials as the first anniversary of this terrible earthquake approaches. We have achieved a great deal in very difficult circumstances but as you know from the news there is an uphill road to climb.
It’s a challenge that will remain before us. And it’s one that our faithful understand clearly as a sign of the Church’s mission in the world. Once again: thank you very much.
REBUILDING THE CHURCH IN HAITI
Thank you Bishop Farrell for this opportunity and for your leadership as Chairman of the National Collections Committee in keeping the focus of our Conference’s efforts on the plight of Haiti, especially on the Church in Haiti.
I’d also like to acknowledge Archbishop Gomez, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America for his commitment. Immediately after the earthquake he visited Haiti and established the Haiti Advisory Group that included himself as Chairman, Cardinal O’Malley, Bishop Sansaricq, and myself. [Slide one] More recently, both Archbishop Gomez and I had reason to change our zip codes and, given that my new zip code is closer to Haiti than his new zip code, Bishop Farrell asked me to assume the Chairmanship of the Haiti Advisory Group.
As Bishop Farrell said, the Special Collection was taken up with two clear intentions: first to address humanitarian needs and second for ecclesial needs. The Subcommittee and the Haiti Advisory Group is charged with administering 40% of the Special Collection, which amounts to $33 million. Since the earthquake, the Advisory Group has awarded $1.2 million to the Church in Haiti through 33 individual projects. [Slide on HAG statistics]. The largest of these was a grant of $320,000 to reconstitute the national seminary by providing sturdy tents for the seminarians to live in and to continue with their formation.
Other projects have funded vocational workshops, training for religious men and women and seminarians, the printing and distribution of popular prayer books and song books in Creole as well as pastoral training for those providing emotional and psychological support to the traumatized population. Immediately, we arranged for new radio equipment to be sent from Miami to get the national Catholic radio station up and running again. Radio Soleil is one of the key arteries of communication for Catholics all across Haiti.
Just as quickly, we turned our attention to the question of Church reconstruction. The damage is still difficult to quantify but assessments put the damage at the following: 70 parishes, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Port-au-Prince were destroyed, as well as dozens of schools, several convents and the three centers of priestly formation: philosophy, theology and the center for training religious priests.
Three Port-au-Prince archdiocesan leaders—including Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot—were killed in the quake along with seven priests, 31 seminarians, and 31 men and women religious. In this slide you can see Cardinal O’Malley at the site of the destroyed theology seminary with a Montfortan seminarian—Norbert Tibeau. Norbert was the only survivor out of a class of 10 De Montfort seminarians. [Powerpoint Photo]
In short, the devastation was massive. However, we heard from many of you that any rebuilding should be done in way that ensures that this terrible loss of life will never happen again. So many people died in Haiti because a serious earthquake combined with chronically deficient construction. For this reason, the Advisory Group adopted two guiding principles to its work.
First, we decided to disburse funds for the reconstruction of Church properties only after a reliable mechanism was in place to avoid poor construction in the future.
Second, we would only move ahead with plans agreed to by the Haitians themselves. This second principle might seem obvious but it has been honored in Haiti more in the breach than in the observance.
Over the last few months, we have put in place a mechanism that honors these two guiding principles. Many bishops’ conferences and other Catholic groups around the world have been part of this process, including our own Catholic Relief Services. We took an important step in September this year when the Haitian Bishops’ Conference held its Plenary Session in Miami. Every Haitian diocesan bishop was present, as well as Church representatives from around the world, including the Holy See. Notably, Mrs. Teresa Patterson of the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas joined us and we continue to work together. . In all my years working with the Church in Haiti, I can say that this was a unique step, and a very welcome one. During that meeting, the Haitian bishops made two key decisions.
First, they approved the establishment of an Architectural and Engineering Unit within the Bishops’ Conference that would oversee the planning and execution of Church reconstruction according to accepted standards. They called this unit “PROCHE” which means “close” in French. PROCHE represents the spirit of solidarity that we want as Haiti rebuilds – it is an acronym for PROximité Catholique avec Haïti et son Eglise. You will find a document giving further detail on PROCHE in your green books on page xxx.
Second, the Haitian Bishops approved a document offering guidelines on existing and future twinning relationships between the Church in Haiti and Church units around the world. Called “Partners in Mission,” this document can be found in the green books at p. xxx.
The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and other Catholic aid agencies intend to channel the bulk of the collection funds destined for Church reconstruction through the PROCHE building unit.
As you can see from the PowerPoint graphic [slide], the unit director will report directly to the Haitian bishops and their President who is currently Archbishop Kébreau of Cap-Haitien. There is, however, a Joint Steering Committee that will provide on-going accompaniment to the Haitian Conference. It is made up of the Nuncio, the Haitian Conference, the head of the Conference of Religious as well as those bishops’ conferences – like ours – that have a significant interest in remaining close to the planning and building that needs to take place in the months and years ahead.
This Joint Steering Committee is designed to guarantee constant flow of information and accountability to the donor community. It will be served by a staff-level Executive Committee that includes the Haitian Bishops’ Conference Permanent Secretary and three key donor conferences such as our own, the German and French Conferences. Our Conference will be represented on this staff-level Executive Committee by the Haiti Program Manager – a new temporary staff position, who will ensure the transparent and efficient disbursement of the funds raised in the Special Collection.
And now the request that we would like to make of the body of bishops. The generosity of the Catholic community has been outstanding, even if, as Bishop Farrell noted, unsurprising. Haiti did not need much introduction to Catholics in the United States. Many of us are familiar with the tradition of “parish twinning” in our dioceses. It is estimated that there are 600 parishes in the United States that are twinned – or partnered as we prefer to call it – with 200 parishes in Haiti. YOU DO THE MATH. The Haitian bishops have asked us to encourage those Catholic groups in your diocese to use this mechanism for any building projects funded with Catholic dollars. By channeling twinning projects through PROCHE, we hope to offer a new model of pastoral solidarity that avoids the fragmentation and lack of transparency of the past.
This approach to Church construction in Haiti is new and may raise some questions. This is why we have developed materials to explain our joint efforts, realizing that this call is coming first of all from the Haitians themselves. Unless we model good practice, it’s unrealistic to ask others to do likewise. In addition, we have developed a communications strategy to reach out to all those who have an interest in financially contributing to any construction that is Church-related and that should come under the pastoral plan of the local diocese.
Over the next weeks and months, CRS and our office will be in touch with your diocesan mission offices and other groups to publicize PROCHE and the new form of collaboration that we are seeking to model.
By working together can we avoid falling back into “business as usual.” By uniting our efforts, we can lean on one another through the difficult times ahead, keeping up momentum to show the Haitians that they will not be forgotten again. As Bishop Farrell said, I’d ask you all to carry this message forward in your local dioceses especially as the first anniversary approaches.
CRS IN HAITI
Last year, I asked a favor of all of you, my brother bishops. I asked you to promote Catholic Relief Services as our official international humanitarian agency and to support the work it does in the name of all of us bishops and all American Catholics. You did just what I asked in such a wonderful way in support of our work in Haiti. Thank you so much. I’d like to spend just a few minutes updating you on what your support has allowed us to do in Haiti.
CRS has received $149.2M in private donations (as of 25 October), of which $82.6M is from diocesan gifts. It was from your dioceses that we were able to garner this level of support. Of the latter amount, as Bishop Farrell has said, 40 percent, or $33M, will be managed by the USCCB Office for the Church in Latin America in support of church reconstruction. CRS has also received $12.9M from other donors as well as USG commitments of $44.1M. Our total revenue is $206.2M.
II. A Fast and Effective Response
One Church Response
We have made important contributions to collaboration as part of the One Church response:
III. One Year Anniversary
IINTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND PEACE UPDATE ON HAITI
The Committee on International Justice and Peace has focused on U.S. policy toward Haiti. I wrote the Administration urging that U.S. policy and aid follow a comprehensive plan that includes:
We have been successful in securing:
In addition, we continue to work on:
I am grateful to Archbishop Thomas Wenski who visited Haiti in July on behalf of our Committee to meet with Church, business, government, and civil society leaders to assess the impact of U.S. policies on Haitian recovery, development, and poverty reduction. Insights from this trip, which was done jointly with MRS, will help shape our future advocacy on behalf of the Church and people of Haiti. A report outlining the major findings of the trip and policy recommendations has been distributed to the appropriate public officials.
COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION AND REFUGGEES
EFFORTS TO THE DISPLACED OF HAITI
Your Eminence and my brother bishops, I am grateful for this opportunity to update you on the efforts of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) on behalf of the Haitian people, specifically those injured and displaced because of the January 12th earthquake.
On January 14, Cardinal George wrote to President Obama and asked for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti, which gives undocumented Haitian nationals in this country legal status and work authorization for up to 18 months. Two days later, TPS was conferred for a period of eighteen months to Haitians who had arrived on or before January 12, 2010. Since that time, MRS and CLINIC have worked to improve the TPS application process for Haitians and to extend TPS to Haitian nationals who arrived after January 12th. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, subsequently invoked deferred action on Haitians, which allows those who arrived after January 12th to receive a delay in deportation.
In July and early August of this year, a delegation from MRS, in conjunction with the Committee of International Justice and Peace, traveled to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, to examine the issues surrounding Haitians displaced by the earthquake. The delegation made several findings and recommendations for action, which are included in the trip report found on the Haiti page of the USCCB website. Specifically, the delegation called for more protection for vulnerable Haitians both inside and outside Haiti, including single women with children and children who have lost their parents during the earthquake, as well as for the reunification of medical evacuees to the U.S. with their families. MRS and CLINIC are pursuing the trip recommendations with the government.
Finally, the Miami office of MRS, which operates a reception and placement program for Cubans and Haitians who arrive in the United States, has received 219 medical evacuee cases from Haiti, including their family members. Following their medical treatment, MRS has placed these cases in the dioceses of Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Phoenix, and Houston. They are provided housing and follow-up health and mental health services, with the children being placed in local schools. Challenges remain for these evacuated Haitians, including employment, long-term housing, no process for family reunification, and an uncertain immigration status.
Migration and Refugee Services will continue to advocate on behalf of the displaced Haitian community in Haiti and the region, particularly with our own government, which has so much influence over countries in the region. Thank you very much.