Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI after Wednesday's General Audience, Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas of Anse-a-Veau and the Director of Caritas Haiti, said that despite the tragedy that struck the country last month, Haitians remain hopeful “that tomorrow can be better than the past.”
During the emotional meeting, Bishop Dumas said, “The pillar upon which Haiti must be rebuilt is the dignity of the person, which must prevail over every other interest. We now have the opportunity to put a new face on our country based on justice, gratitude and solidarity.”
After thanking the Holy Father for his “immediate support through prayer and charity,” Bishop Dumas, who lost a two year-old niece and other family members in the January 12 earthquake, remarked: “All of our families have been impacted, but it moves me to see that despite the tragedy, Haiti has hope that tomorrow can be better than the past.”
The bishop added that there “is also a spiritual renewal. Losing everything has brought us to what is essential, and thus, to the transcendent dimension. The Church will continue to do what is possible for and with the people who are living an experience of unity in suffering,” he said.
“We wonder what the future of Haiti will be. It is a question that causes anxiety as we move from the emergency to reconstruction,” the bishop said. “The urgency now is finding homes and food for so many who have nothing. But now is the time to plan a just reconstruction, as long as the spotlight is on us. In other words, when the international aid unavoidably diminishes, reconstruction will become more difficult.”
“For this reason,” he continued, “we are looking for dioceses to partner up with. I think dioceses in the U.S. and Germany could help us reconstruct churches and send us teams of architects quickly.”
For the bishops of Haiti, the new churches will be signs of hope for rebirth,” not solely for Christians, but “for non-believers as well," he said.