Archive of January 16, 2014

Engaged couples to meet with Pope on Valentine's Day

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pontifical Council for the Family is promoting a special encounter between Pope Francis and couples who have been engaged, which will take place on the upcoming feast of Saint Valentine.

Invited to the meeting with the Pope are those couples “who have already attended, or are currently going through their marriage preparation courses,” the council's webpage states.

Couples who meet these qualifications will gather in the Vatican's Paul VI hall on Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. to receive the personal greetings and message of the Pope.

The Pontifical Council for the Family, which is organizing the event, is part of the Roman Curia and was established by Bl. John Paul II in 1981 in order to promote the pastoral care of families and to protect their rights and dignity within society so that they might be more able to fulfill their duties.

Although this will be the first meeting of its kind with Pope Francis, it is not first time this type of encounter has been held.

On Sept. 11, 2011, former pontiff Benedict XVI met with young couples in Ancona, Italy in honor of the Eucharistic Congress at the time, and Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia of the diocese of Terni has also promoted similar activities each year on the holiday.

In his speech to engaged couples, Benedict XVI expressed some of the challenges which can inhibit relationships from flourishing, including difficulties in finding a steady job and living amid an individualistic culture.

Encouraging the couples not to “fear to face these challenges,” and to “never lose hope,” the former pontiff emphasized to them the importance of maintaining an encounter with God, “especially in personal and community prayer.”

“The Church too is close to you, supports you and never ceases to look at you with great trust,” he said, and cautioned them against shutting themselves into “intimist” and “falsely reassuring relationships.”

Reminding the couples also to choose “with conviction” the “forever” that connotes love, Benedict noted that this indissolubility “is a gift,” to be “desired” and “lived out,” also affirming that authentic love requires a process of “maturation.”

Couples who wish to register for the special Feb. 14 encounter with Pope Francis can do so at the diocesan office of the Family, the secretariats of the movements and associations, or by writing to [email protected] Registration closes on Jan. 30, 2014.

back to top

Priest dismissed from Society of Jesus had 'lost his way'

Baltimore, Md., Jan 16, 2014 (CNA) - Father John Dear, a longtime activist for peace and nonviolence who has been dismissed from the Jesuits, is impassioned yet wayward according to a source long familiar with the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Dear was recently dismissed from the order for disobedience, after failing to respond to a request from his superior to reside in Baltimore.

“I'm not unsympathetic, but…when you join the Jesuits, or any religious order, it presupposes availability to mission…it's a very important thing in the Jesuits, and Dear isn't available for anything except what he wants to do,” a source who has been close to the society for several decades told CNA.

Fr. James Shea, head of the Maryland province of the Society, to which Fr. Dear belonged, said, “Fr. John Dear's dismissal from the Society of Jesus” was “following an extended period of dialogue between the leadership of the Maryland Province and John regarding his ministerial assignment and time he requested to discern his vocation.”

“The process was initiated in the fall of 2012 after John declined to return to his Province to live in a Jesuit community while continuing his ministry of peace and social justice, including lecturing and writing.”

Fr. Dear, who remains a priest yet has not been granted faculties by the bishop of his place of residence, entered the Society of Jesus in 1982 and was ordained a priest in 1993. He has led protests against nuclear weapons at Los Alamos, N.M., and the Jesuits' cooperation with such programs as ROTC, was involved in efforts against apartheid, and is dedicated to his vision of “the nonviolent Jesus.”

He has been arrested several times for civil disobedience in connection with his protests against weaponry and the military, and has written numerous books on nonviolence and peace.

Fr. Dear made his dismissal public in a Jan. 7 blog post at the National Catholic Reporter, weeks after it took effect on Dec. 20, 2013.

According to the Reporter, a notification of his dismissal, signed by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, said the priest had been “obstinately disobedient to the lawful order of Superiors in a grave matter,” and “was duly informed ... that his failure to obey the command that he return to the specified house of the Order by a specified date would be cause for his dismissal from the Society of Jesus.”

Fr. Dear told CNA Jan. 9 that his parting of ways with the Jesuits followed a realization that “I didn't think I would be able to continue my life's work to continue to work for peace, justice” in the society, and claimed to have “always been obedient,” while saying that “the order has radically changed” since the time he entered.

“I've known other Jesuits who have been very active publicly for justice and peace who went to their deaths very bitter,” and “I didn't want to do that.”

The priest believes that to follow Jesus means “to work to end killing and poverty, and to promote peace, love, and nonviolence, and justice, as he teaches in the Sermon on the Mount.”

“Was Jesus violence or nonviolent?” he asked. “If he's nonviolent, then we have to be nonviolent, or we're not like him; we're not following him, and it's all a big game.”

Fr. Dear acknowledged that “ultimately, you could say that what happened to me is a question of theology. I'm arguing that Jesus and God are nonviolent,” he said, while “the bishops and the Jesuit leaders” hold to theories which allow for war and violence under certain circumstances.

The source who spoke with CNA said that one can suspect that Fr. Dear “has a very unique take on nonviolence, on who Christ is,” and “obsesses that Jesus is all about nothing but the notion of peace, and, as far as I can tell, the peace that the world gives; not the dynamic peace of Christ.”

The source characterized Fr. Dear as “taking something that is a truth, and trying to turn it into all truth…he's really gotten into this particular subculture” rooted in the late 1960s and the vision of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit who protested against the Vietnam war and destroyed draft files.

“John Dear didn't just drop from the sky, he's a creation of the 1970s of the Jesuits” and does “reflect the spirit of the 32nd General Congregation of the Jesuits…he's taken the ball and run with it to incredible lengths.”

Fr. Dear “was formed in a certain way of being a Jesuit in the 1980s, and that has all changed,” the source affirmed. “He was formed…in a different vision” in which there “was a lot of good,” yet was “defective” in some ways.

“When you join the Jesuits, or any religious order, it presupposes availability to mission … that's a key word, availability for mission. Are you available for missioning?”

Fr. Dear “made a choice,” the source said, commenting that obedience and availability for mission are in a sense identical.

“I think the big issue is one of obedience. When the provincial asks you, or tells you, to come back to province, you obey him…a lot of the Jesuit identity is to be sent on mission: and so you're missioned to whatever you're doing by the provincial.”

The source acknowledged “a certain sympathy” with Fr. Dear, calling him a man of “tremendous vision, and dedication.”

“But he lost his way.”

back to top

New York cultural event delves into meaning of relationship

New York City, N.Y., Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The upcoming New York Encounter cultural festival will explore the dynamic between “I” and “We” – individuals and community – and how the human person finds fulfillment only in relationship.

“It's a very human and common experience, realizing that you can't exist by yourself; you don't even call your own name: you need another one, to be called,” Maurizio Maniscalco, chairman of the New York Encounter, told CNA Jan. 15.

“The I is actually born…only in a relationship.”

The 2014 Encounter takes places Jan. 17-19 in midtown Manhattan, and is the fourth annual installment; it's theme is “The Time of the Person, The Origins of a People.”

The Encounter is organized by the Catholic ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation and by Crossroads Cultural Center. The center aims to explore the relationship between religion and culture, and was founded by members of Communion and Liberation.

While the event is organized by Catholics, it is meant to be an encounter for all persons: “people come looking for something beautiful, and hopefully they will find it.”

This year the Encounter will feature discussions, exhibits, and musical performances, as well as a Mass said by Archbishop Carlo Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S. All will consider the tension experienced between the person and community – where the person finds both fulfillment and frustration.

“Looking at the present situation; looking at our culture, or lack of it; looking at our understanding of things and reality, the I certainly is, in a sense, at the same time (both) the center of our human adventure and the most neglected character in human history,” Maniscalco said.

“It's the relationship with the mystery that makes us, and that generates a people.”

“At the same time, a people can't just be the result of some intelligent mechanism, or a plan. It has to come from something deeper, something which is acknowledged as a common root, a common ground, a common origin. Now you can phrase it in a million ways, but basically the I doesn't exist without a people, and a people cannot be a lively entity if each and every person, if each and every I, is not fully expressed.”

The tension between the I and the other, in whom we find our fulfillment, is “everybody's experience,” Maniscalco reflected.

“That's why we try to offer this weekend: to open up a door to a possible different, or deeper, understanding of this dynamic, because it's true. The other is at the same time precious, indispensable many times, but he can be an enemy.”

“Even though I still remain convinced that my worst enemy is my self, when I conceive of myself as alone.”

He emphasized the importance of searching for truth in receiving what the Encounter has to offer, saying, “the dynamic of the relationship between the I and the other, is a journey in itself.”

He reflected on his nearly 35 years of marriage with his wife as a prime example of the I-Thou relationship.

“We've been through a lot; it is a never-ending journey; there's tension, yes, we're excellent fighters, and at the same time, it's the acknowledgment of something that has put us together that allows us to, not only overcome, but embrace the difficulties as a step toward a deeper understanding of what being together is all about.”

“So God willing, all that will be offered during the weekend will encourage us to take on to, to continue, a journey like this.”

Noting the variety to be found in the events at the weekend of the Encounter, Maniscalco said “this is like life: we all get struck by something. Like when you fall in love with somebody, there is something in particular that strikes you; and hopefully instead of being the beginning and end of the story, it becomes the point of departure.”

back to top

Designer says it was an honor to present nativity to Pope

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The man in charge of constructing this year’s nativity scene for the Vatican expressed his delight at giving to Pope Francis the nativity he designed, which, he noted, has a special historical significance.

“We had the honor of being in a private audience with the Pope” and with “Cardinal Sepe on Dec. 23” nativity designer Antonio Cantone told CNA in a Jan. 14 interview, where “we presented our donation; the nativity scene.

“The Pope,” recalled the designer, “was extremely happy to see a nativity scene so special, so beautiful in his square.”

Designed and carved primarily by Cantone and his wife, this year’s nativity was created to depict the traditional style of Naples, an Italian city that has been famous for its nativity scenes since the 17th century.

“The Neapolitan nativity is extremely important in art history because it has had a remarkable success in the whole world” Cantone noted, stating that “In fact, most people understand the Neapolitan nativity as the only nativity, and not that of any other nationality.”

Located at the center of St. Peter’s Square in Rome, this is the first time the Vatican’s nativity scene has been depicted the historic Neapolitan style, which, the designer observed, initially caused problems with the size of the statues.

“Neapolitan figures have a maximum height of 50 centimeters,” however the statues were made to be “two meters tall” so that they can be “visible from great distances,” he explained.

Cantone emphasized that it took him and his wife, along with others who helped in the project, “a year” to do “the figures only.”

When asked if there were any hidden details on the nativity scene, as is sometimes done in some styles, Cantone stated that “No,” there was not, and that “for those who know the Neapolitan nativity scene, no.”

However, the designer drew attention to the right side of the set, where “there is a woman with her hand raised,” explaining that “she is a pagan, a gypsy, and when she looks at the baby, she instantly converts. She converts to Christianity as she adores the baby.”

“This,” he observed, “is a very important character for those who build Neapolitan nativity scenes. It is one of the main, fundamental characters.”

After being constructed behind a closed curtain, the nativity was unveiled in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 24, 2013, and will remain in there until Feb. 2, which is the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

Following the dismantling of the nativity, the statues will be taken to the Vatican Museums, where the will be on display for some days.

back to top

Pope Francis: scandals 'poison' and deny the 'bread of life'

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his daily homily, Pope Francis addressed the issue of various scandals that happen within the Church, emphasizing that they occur when we no longer have a true relationship with God.

When we are corrupt “we do not give the Bread of Life to eat,” the Pope explained in this Jan. 16 daily Mass, but “many times, we…offer a poisoned meal!”

The pontiff centered his homily, addressed to those present in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, on the day’s first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, and the responsorial psalm, which recount Israel’s defeat by the Philistines.

During their battle with the Philistines, he observed, the Israelites did bring the Ark of the Covenant, but sought to use it as something “magical” and “external,” and were defeated.

“This passage of Scripture makes us think about what sort of relationship we have with God, with the Word of God,” the Pope observed, asking those present if theirs is “a formal relationship? Is it a distant relationship?”

When the Word of God enters us, it “changes our hearts,” Pope Francis explained, highlighting that when we have a formal relationship with God, “the heart is closed to that Word!”

“It leads us to think of the so many defeats of the Church, so many defeats of God's people simply because they do not hear the Lord, do not seek the Lord, do not allow themselves to be sought by the Lord!”

Returning to the first reading, the pontiff noted after a “tragedy” such as the defeat of the Israelites, then comes the prayer “’But, Lord , what happened ? You have made us the scorn of our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us the laughing stock among nations! All the nations shake their heads about us.’”

Turning to the topic of scandals which occur in the Church, the Pope asked “But are we ashamed?” stating that there are “So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are!”

These scandals, he said, “some who charged a lot of money,” are “the shame of the Church!”

“But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?” continued the Pope, asking “where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God!”

“They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no!”

“’But, I wear a medal,’ ‘I carry the Cross’…Yes, just as those” who “bore the Ark,” the pontiff explained, “without the living relationship with God and the Word of God!”

In these situations, Pope Francis noted that he is reminded of what Jesus says about those for whom scandals come, saying that “here the scandal hit: bringing decay, to the people of God, including the weakness and corruption of the priests.”

Changing his focus to the People of God, the Pope lamented that they are “Poor people!” and emphasized that often “we do not give the Bread of Life to eat; we do give -- in those cases -- the bread of Truth! And many times, we even offer a poisoned meal!”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with a prayer quoting the scriptures, saying “‘Awaken! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?’”

“We ask the Lord that we never forget the Word of God, which is alive, so that it enters into our hearts and never to forget the holy people faithful to God who ask us to nourish and strengthen them.”

back to top

New members of the Vatican bank cardinals' commission named

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Commission of Cardinals overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion, or “Vatican bank”, were named on Wednesday; of the five existing members, only one was confirmed in his post.

The five current members are Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna; Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto; Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major; and Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of state.

Cardinal Tauran is the only member of the old commission to have been confirmed in his post. Pope Francis' decision to appoint the new commission marks a new era for the Vatican bank.

The cardinals' commission convenes at least bi-annually, and oversees the Vatican bank's compliance with its statutory norms, according to the manner provided for in its by-laws. It is charged with drawing up a report into the juridical standing and activities of the institution.

The commission no longer includes the president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as it had in its two previous mandates, as a result of the Vatican's adoption of international standards for financial transparency and anti-money laundering efforts.

According to these standards, it is important to make a clear distinction among each of the Vatican institutions involved with financial issues, in order to avoid conflicts of interest. Thus a public authority such as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See cannot be included in a financial institution such as the Vatican bank.

Pope Francis' appointments to the commission continue the campaign of financial transparency for the Vatican which was initiated under his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

The commission had been renewed in February, 2013, and its five-year mandate was not set to expire until 2017. Pope Francis' decision to appoint commission members so early thus signals his concern and attention to the Vatican bank.

Cardinal Abril y Castello is a long-time Vatican diplomat trusted by Pope Francis; he served as apostolic nuncio to Argentina from 2000 to 2003.

Vatican financial reform was begun in 2009, when the Holy See, under Benedict XVI, signed a monetary agreement with the European Union, and issued an anti-money laundering law the following year.

It underwent an evaluation by the Council of Europe's Moneyval committee in 2011, after which it amended and improved its anti-money laundering law. In July, 2012 the Vatican received a generally positive evaluation from Moneyval.

Pope Francis has established a committee for financial security, and promulgated a law on Oct. 8 establishing a financial system taking into account the peculiarities of the Vatican City State.

back to top

Argentine rabbi: Pope's visit to Holy Land could foster peace

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, believes that Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the Holy Land is a chance to bring a message of peace to the world.

The rabbi, who is a close friend of the Pope from Argentina, said he received news of the Holy Father's May 24-26 visit to the Holy Land “with great joy.”

“We dreamed of this visit to the Holy Land, to Israel in particular, based on deep friendship and with a message of peace for all the citizens of the region,” he explained.

In statements to the Jewish News Agency, Skorka recalled that when he recently visited the Vatican, he spoke to Pope Francis “about the contribution that he can make from his own place in order to begin to make this vision a reality in some way, if God wills, or at least to give it a much more accentuated dimension in human reality.”

“According to the prophets, with a sincere, honest and profound peace in Zion there will be a solid message of peace that will materialize throughout the world. Let us remember the vision of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 2: ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares.’ No one will prepare for war any longer,” the rabbi said.

“If this trip takes place in this way it will be something grand, because the dream is to embrace him before the Kotel (the Wailing Wall). It would be a symbol to try to end 2000 years of disagreements between Jews and Christians and begin a new era,” he added.

Over the last three years, Rabbi Skorka and then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – who is now Pope Francis – became close friends in Buenos Aires and worked together on inter-religious dialogue, meeting numerous times for discussion. Out of those meetings came the book, “On Heaven and Earth,” published in 2010, and the television program, “The Bible: Current Dialogue.”

back to top

Protecting children is Church priority, Vatican officials tell UN

Geneva, Switzerland, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Violence against children and child exploitation are “crimes” and Pope Francis is working to protect children from the “scourge” of sex abuse, leading Vatican figures told a U.N. committee on Jan. 16.

“There is no excuse for any form of violence or exploitation of children,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said to a Jan. 16 hearing of the U.N. committee that oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Archbishop Tomasi heads the Holy See's permanent observer mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Bishop Charles Scicluna, a former promoter of justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also attended  the U.N. committee hearing, Vatican Radio reports.

Ahead of the hearing, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See's press office, issued a note about the Holy See's adherence to the U.N. convention and Vatican efforts to combat sex abuse.

“The Holy See is deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse of minors, which harms millions of children throughout the world,” his note said. He added that the Vatican “laments that, sadly, certain members of the clergy have been involved in such abuse.”

The note acknowledged that sex abuse and the suffering of abuse victims has posed a direct challenge to the Church’s credibility regarding the welfare of children.

Fr. Lombardi said this challenge has led to the Church's development of “a series of initiatives and directives” that are also “extremely helpful” to other communities.

Archbishop Tomasi noted Pope Francis' establishment of a commission for the protection of minors in order to defend the best interest of children and to prevent “any abuse or any harm that may come to them.”

He told Vatican Radio that future efforts must “strengthen the good steps and the good measures that have already been taken.” He said attention given to the Holy See is “understandable,” noting that there are criticisms and claims that the Holy See has covered up some crimes against children.

However, the archbishop said that some accusations against the Vatican are based in “a lack of knowledge” of the measures taken by the Holy See and by local churches. He said the Holy See’s attitude and directives make transparency and child protection “a priority.”

Archbishop Tomasi said the Holy See recognizes that a crime involving children “needs to be addressed more forcefully.” He said obstruction of justice should be prosecuted “in every case.” The Holy See’s policy is “to encourage the prosecution of any crime, including crimes, and especially crimes, against children.”

The committee hearing coincides with the Holy See's criminal investigation of Polish Archbishop Joseph Wesolowski for alleged sex abuse. The archbishop, who served as papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic, is currently under investigation by authorities of the Holy See for alleged sexual misconduct involving minors in that country. He could be convicted under the Holy See’s civil law and jailed in Vatican City.

Archbishop Tomasi said that the U.N. committee hearing is “a constructive moment” and “an important occasion” to reaffirm the convention, which the Holy See ratified in 1990. The Holy See is willing “to promote and to sustain the good principles and the good values” in the convention.

He said the committee hearing is a great opportunity to accept “any good advice” about child protection. He said the Holy See will fulfill its international obligations and accept any suggestions about its commitment to children’s rights.

Fr. Lombardi said that Catholic teaching emphasizes respect for the dignity of the human person. The Holy See’s adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child is “in keeping with the teaching and constant stance of the Church.”

He said the Holy See is “an active promoter of an immense current of caring service for the good of children throughout the world.”

Pope Francis’ “inspiring guidance and leadership” gives “a new and evident energy to this commitment,” the Vatican spokesman said.

Fr.  Lombardi also criticized the assumption that bishops or religious superiors act “as representatives or delegates of the Pope.” He said this belief is “utterly without foundation.” Rather, civil authorities in countries that have signed the U.N. convention are directly responsible for its implementation and for the enforcement of laws that protect children.

back to top

Haiti encounters hope, challenges four years after devastation

Port au Prince, Haiti, Jan 16, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Four years after a desolating earthquake affected millions in Haiti, Catholic Relief Services continues to help the nation move from recovery to addressing social concerns that pre-dated the catastrophe.

“You can't help but have great love for Haitians,” Darren Hercyk, Catholic Relief Services' Country Representative for Haiti based in Port-au-Prince, told CNA Jan. 15.

In Haiti, he said, there are “stories of great courage and hope; at the same time you hear stories of great challenges.”

On  Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti near its capital city of Port-au-Prince, leaving 230,000 people dead and over 1.5 million people without shelter.

Prior to the earthquake, Catholic Relief Services had already been present and working in Haiti “for a long time,” with a great number of resources and local connection and over 300 employees in the country. After the earthquake, Hercyk explained, “we mobilized all of those resources for lifesaving.”

In the disaster's aftermath, Catholic Relief Services was able to provide food and water to more than 1 million people and emergency shelter to more than 100,000 individuals. The organization also ensured that 71,000 patients received medical treatment, including over 1,000 surgeries.

Since the initial stages of relief work, CRS has been active in assisting in the country's recovery. The organization has helped find homes for the over 1 million persons displaced by the earthquake, including for all of the people located in four camps that the group ran and closed.

In addition, the relief organization helped establish and repair thousands of sanitation facilities, water catchment units, showers, water tanks, sewage drainage, and other sanitation projects.

Traveling from the airport to a majority of places, “you would see very little signs of the earthquake,” Hercyk said. “There has been great progress.”

“Now we're really working on the systemic issues that predated the earthquake,” he added, speaking of the organization's continuing work int the country.

Previously, “people have steered away from working with institutions because it takes time” leaving a social infrastructure that cannot adequately address people's needs, Hercyk explained.

He added that many other organizations and people have found it easier to come in from other countries, creating their own programs outside of existing institutions.

The most important institution that CRS works with to help foster this lasting change, he said, is the Catholic Church.

“The Church in places like Haiti does everything,” he explained, pointing to the help it gives people in medicine, education and housing, but noting that above all, “it provides hope.”

“That's why it's so exciting for us,” he continued, “to be working not only with the Church but through the Church.”

“The Catholic Church is the largest educator in the country,” he explained, noting that the Church has more students and educators than even the government. Thus, as part of the 180 projects going on throughout the country's 10 dioceses, CRS is working with teachers to complete certification and training in order to improve teaching quality and access for Haitian students everywhere.

The organization is also working with Haitians to expand and improve the nation's health care system, rebuilding hospitals and training staff. At the center of this project is the reconstruction of the St. François de Sales Hospital to transform it into a modern teaching hospital. For this project, “the key is working with the Catholic Health Association” as well as with local doctors, nurses and medical staff who are leading the project.

Farmers too have received help from Catholic Relief Services, with the organization helping to link farmers to one another, the market, the government and private capital.

Catholic Relief Services is also helping in Port-au-Prince to transition “populations there from temporary housing to permanent housing.” The goal, Hercyk said, is not to give away housing but to be “working with existing institutions to create access to housing for the poor” by working not only with the government and construction workers but with banks and local institutions as well.

“We want to create a model that can be replicated” in other areas in Haiti, he explained.

All of these projects have been advanced by working with the Haitian dioceses and bishops' conference, which is headed by Cardinal-elect Chibly Langlois.

Still, even with the widespread network and institutional support CRS has in the country, enacting such broad social change has not been easy – or quick.

“It takes time to set up,” Hercyk said, noting that while recovery and establishing organizations can be quick, creating change is a slow process.

“Real change and progress happen when you work through the institutions” that already exist, he continued, saying that the key is placing “Haitians in those leadership positions.”

And, leading the institutional transformation, Catholic Relief Services is helping Haiti to make changes not only “with institutions but through them.”

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: