.- With U.S. diocesan aid to Haiti now totaling over $30 million, a Haiti Advisory Group has been created to help the U.S. bishops assess and respond to the devastating January earthquake’s impact upon Haitians and the local Church.
The advisory group was created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez, who chairs the Subcommittee, will also chair the advisory group. He will be joined by Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Bishop of Orlando Thomas Wenski, and Bishop Guy Sansaricq.
Bishop Sansaricq is Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn and the only Haitian-American bishop in the United States, a USCCB press release says.
“We’ve all been horrified by the images of such destruction, and yet, as a Haitian-American, I am deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support to our brothers and sisters in need,” he remarked.
Several members of the group will visit Haiti from March 1 to 3 to assess the damage and to identify how the Subcommittee can assist relief efforts.
Archbishop Gomez said the group’s visit will help advisement on the distribution of special collection funds.
“The purpose in setting up a special advisory group is to ensure that we can remain focused on the long term development needs of the Church in Haiti. The bishops will call upon other experts to help them in this task,” he continued.
The archbishop noted that the U.S. bishops called for special prayer services and vigils immediately after the quake. They also asked all dioceses to take up a collection for immediate emergency needs, long term rebuilding needs, and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in Haiti.
“Only a few weeks later, one hundred ten U.S. dioceses have sent nearly $30 million to a special Haiti Relief Collection fund,” Archbishop Gomez reported. “Money from parishes and dioceses continues to come in.”
Cardinal O’Malley also commented on the “unprecedented” worldwide relief effort:
“The Catholic response in particular is a profound example of stewardship and the universal bonds that unite the Church. In traveling to Haiti, we will express the ongoing concern of all those Catholics who have reached out to Haiti in prayer and material support.”