U.S. Bishops Mourn Devastation in Haiti, Urge Special Collection January 16-17 to Support Efforts of USCCB, CRS

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Church mourns the terrible suffering of the people of Haiti, and parishes across the country are urged to take up a special collection the weekend of January 16-17 for the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. bishops and Catholic Relief Service (CRS) in Haiti, according to a January 13 letter to Catholic bishops of the United States from Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

Cardinal George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Dolan, chair of the CRS board, said the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that ravaged Haiti "destroyed countless homes, churches, seminaries, schools, and other buildings and has left millions without the most basic necessities of life. Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to our brothers and sisters in their time of suffering."

The full letter follows:

Your Eminence/Excellency:

Our Church mourns the terrible suffering of our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January 12, 2010 has already claimed thousands of lives including the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. It has destroyed countless homes, churches, seminaries, schools, and other buildings and has left millions without the most basic necessities of life. Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to our brothers and sisters in their time of suffering.

We invite you to encourage your pastors to take up a second collection for the people and Church of Haiti this weekend, January 16 and 17, 2010. These funds will be used to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, as they respond to immediate emergency needs for such necessities as water, food, shelter and medical care, as well as to the long term need to rebuild after widespread destruction, and to the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in Haiti.

Catholic Relief Services is already mounting a major emergency response to this severe disaster and has committed an initial $5 million to fund relief efforts which are likely to go on for some time.  Your help and the help of the Catholic people of the United States are urgently needed.

Next weekend, January 23-24, many dioceses are scheduled to take up the Collection for the Church in Latin America. This Collection is vitally important for our ability to respond to the pastoral needs of the Church in Haiti and other parts of Latin America in the weeks and months ahead. We urge that you use both of these opportunities to express our solidarity and our loving support for our brothers and sisters in Haiti and ask you not to substitute one collection for the other.

Additional information on the U.S. Catholic community's response to this emergency and how U.S. Catholics can help can be found at CRS.org and USCCB.org

Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.

Archbishop of Chicago

President

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan

Chairman

Catholic Relief Services

SOURCE U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops



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