Bishops Laud US Support for Haiti: $83M

Money Going Through Unit to Oversee Construction Standards

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BALTIMORE, Maryland, NOV. 16, 2010 ( U.S. bishops are praising the «remarkable generosity» of their faithful in response to the January earthquake that destroyed the capital of Haiti.

And the prelates are reporting that the $82.6 million collected in just one weekend will be used in part to guarantee «that any rebuilding should be done in a way that ensures that this terrible loss of life will never happen again.»

On Monday, the first day of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fall general assembly, prelates reported on the «One-Church» response to the Jan. 12 quake.

The special collection for Haiti was intended for emergency relief and to rebuild the Church in Haiti; in March, it was decided that 60% would go to humanitarian relief and 40% for ecclesial needs.

Among the earthquake’s 300,000 victims was the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Joseph Serge Miot, as well as almost 30 seminarians. The cathedral was one of 70 parishes that were destroyed. The three seminaries, dozens of schools and several convents were flattened.

«The devastation was massive,» said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, member of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and chairman of its Haiti Advisory Group. “However, we heard from many of you that any rebuilding should be done in way that ensures that this terrible loss of life will never happen again.”

Hence, the Haiti Advisory Group stipulated that funds would be distributed for reconstruction only after a mechanism was in place to ensure that building standards were upheld. This mechanism was developed by the Haitian Catholic Bishops Conference, other Catholic groups, and representatives from “twinning” parish programs. It includes the establishment of an architectural and engineering unit, called PROCHE (French for «close by»). PROCHE will oversee the planning and execution of Church reconstruction according to accepted standards.

The U.S. bishops’ committee will channel the bulk of collection funds through the PROCHE unit. Archbishop Wenski asked the bishops to encourage Catholic groups to use this building unit for any reconstruction that dioceses or parishes plan to support.

So far

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of Catholic Relief Services, provided an account of the agency’s achievements in Haiti thus far.

He noted: Food provided to nearly 900,000 people in the early months of the response; monthly food rations distributed to more than 100,000 children in over 370 schools, orphanages and child-care centers, many of them run by Catholic parishes and congregations; emergency shelter materials distributed to over 215,000 people and more than 400 transitional shelters constructed with over 100 additional shelters built per week; 974 emergency operations and 64,000 outpatient consultations in eight hospitals; plus increased medical support, resources and training.

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