Philadelphia Catholics donate $1.8 million to Haitian quake relief efforts

Haitian children who live in Cité Soleil. Credit: CARITAS/ MathildeMagnier
Haitian children who live in Cité Soleil. Credit: CARITAS/ MathildeMagnier


Cardinal Justin Rigali presented a check for over $1.8 million to the president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on Wednesday for aid efforts for earthquake victims in Haiti. He declared the gift an expression of “very beautiful and profound love.”

The Archbishop of Philadelphia presented the check to CRS president Ken Hackett at Incarnation of Our Lord Parish in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

The parish has a large number of parishioners personally affected by the devastating January earthquake. Attendees, who included some of the approximately 2,300 Haitian Catholics in the archdiocese, sang hymns in Haitian Creole.

The money was raised through special collections at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s 267 parishes, a CRS press release says.

Cardinal Rigali said the contribution provides an opportunity to express “very close solidarity” with the people of Haiti.

“And so our gathering today for the presentation of this check is a living expression of something even more important. Namely it is the love that goes out from heart to heart and embraces the community,” he explained.

“At this time it is my great joy to be able to give a tangible expression of the very beautiful and profound love of the people of this Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” he continued.

The cardinal said that even amid the “tremendous” tragedy, it is “wonderful” that it could generate “so much love.”

Hackett expressed gratitude to the people of the archdiocese, saying that CRS takes its stewardship role “very seriously.”

He explained that CRS has a “very large” program in Haiti, with over 500 staff.

“We are engaged in making sure that we respond to the maximum extent we can in the best way we can in the needs of people who are suffering both in Port-Au-Prince and now in other parts of the country,” he explained.

“So we thank you for your generosity, we thank you for your compassion, your concern of and for the people in Haiti who are suffering today.”

Hackett also reported that the situation in Haiti will continue to be difficult as hurricane season approaches.

In addition to charitable efforts, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is asking Congress to extend and improve trade preferences for Haiti.

Bishop of Albany Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has called on the U.S. House and Senate to move swiftly to approve the Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010.

Extension and improvement of trade preference levels was “critically important,” the bishop said in a May 4 letter to bill sponsors Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

He said the bill will give investors and retailers “a clear signal that the United States has a strong commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild, especially the Haitian economy, in the long-term.”

Bishop Hubbard and Hackett, a co-signer of the letter, also thanked the Senators for their leadership in proposing the legislation.

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