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Papal nuncio to Haiti: Six months later, 'We still need help'
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, papal nuncio to Haiti.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, papal nuncio to Haiti.

.- As the six-month milestone since a devastating earthquake left the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in tatters nears, the work of rebuilding continues slowly. Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, told Fides news agency that, simply put, "there is still much left to do."

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that took place on Jan. 12 severely damaged much of the city, including many Church buildings.

Referring to the still poor roads and living conditions in the capital, Archbishop Auza observed that "it seems that the earthquake just happened yesterday!"

Some people remain without shelter and "do not see a way out," he added.

The papal nuncio cited the difficulty being encountered by reconstruction efforts as "fundamentally linked" to the formation of a commission to lead the charge. With the finalization of a commission to guide and oversee reconstruction efforts, the archbishop said that "it seems that now they can finally get to work."

The Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), a joint Haitian and international commission led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was established on June 17 to oversee the rebuilding of the country.

Archbishop Auza also surveyed Church reconstruction efforts and needs.

Even though much of the funding for archdiocesan projects has come from Catholics worldwide, new building requires government permits. Despite the lack of a government "sign" to go ahead on the variety of projects to be carried out, Archbishop Auza still hopes that the "priority project" will begin by the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

This major effort consists of building two national Haitian seminaries. With the encouragement from the bishops' conferences "of our brother nations," he said, the hope of the Church of Haiti "is to lay the first stone or offer some concrete possibility on the first anniversary of the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2011."

The U.S.-based Florida Catholic reported in June that, besides this major project, other "priority long-range reconstruction sites" in the Port-au-Prince Archdiocese include rebuilding the city's Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, the archdiocesan-owned hospital and damaged parishes.

Asked what his appeal would be to the world at this point, the nuncio told Fides, "Simply, that everyone sees that there is still much left to do. We still need help.

"We thank the Bishops of Haiti, the Holy See, and the international community for supporting us in the reconstruction. The Catholic Church has this priority: the reconstruction of the churches and seminaries."


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