.- As the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina continues to unfold along the U.S. Gulf coast, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced a nationwide collection to be taken up for victims of the disaster. In a message sent Tuesday to all U.S. bishops, Bishop William Skylstad, head of the Conference asked that a special collection be taken up in the nationâs 195 dioceses in a spirit of âfraternal support to our brother bishops at this tragic time.â
Bishop Skylstad noted that while most of the bishops in that area are still unreachable due to downed phone, internet and communication lines, the USCCB had received a request for the collection.
âThe devastation and destruction by Hurricane Katrinaâ, he wrote, âis being felt in many dioceses of the United States, but most especially in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.â
âAs the storm proceeds north through Tennessee and Kentuckyâ, he continued, âeven more people will be affected. Millions of people are in need of assistance and Catholic Charities will be among the primary responders.â
He noted that, âCatholic Charities USA, working with the local diocesan Catholic Charities, has a professional and well developed system of reviewing the needs and providing help where it can accomplish the most good.â
Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, Louisiana and parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida during its devastating journey earlier this week.
Currently, much of New Orleans is underwater and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has ordered all those still remaining in the city--most huddled in the Louisiana Superdome for refuge--out as soon as possible.
No official death toll has yet been offered and rescue workers say that theyâve had to pass over the dead just to reach the living on time. Some estimates put the cost of the disaster at over $25 billion.
Bishop Skylstad added: âThe media coverage has made it abundantly clear that the needs will be great, and long lasting. At this time there is the possibility of more hurricanes coming in the next several weeks. I therefore ask you to please consider taking up a collection in your diocese for the relief of the victims of the hurricanes of this season.â
The USCCB added that special gifts or collections can be sent to:
2005 Hurricane Relief Fund
Catholic Charities USA
PO Box 25168
Alexandria, VA 22313-9788