PRESIDENT "COR UNUM" IN HAITI FOR EARTHQUAKE ANNIVERSARY
VATICAN CITY, 11 JAN 2011 (VIS) - A year after the earthquake which devastated Haiti on 12 January 2010 leaving 250,000 people dead and more than a million homeless, Benedict XVI has sent Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", who will bring a Message from the Pope and economic aid to the people so gravely afflicted twelve months ago, according to a communique released by "Cor Unum".
The cardinal arrived in Haiti yesterday when he visited a number of religious communities in Leogane: the Sisters of Christ the King whose hospital was destroyed, the "Petites Soeurs de Sainte-Therese de l'Enfant Jesus" who run a clinic for people suffering from AIDS and tuberculosis, and the "Compagnes de Jesus" who had an old people's home and a school destroyed by the quake. During the course of the day Cardinal Sarah laid the cornerstone of the "Ecole Notre Dame des Anges". In the Holy Father's name, he also brought concrete support in the form of donations received following the earthquake: 800,000 U.S. dollars for the rebuilding of schools and 400,000 U.S. dollars for the reconstruction of churches.
Today, 11 January, the president of "Cor Unum", accompanied by Msgr. Segundo Tejado, under secretary of the dicastery, will meet Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti. The cardinal will then visit the Parc Acra displaced persons camp where he will celebrate Mass.
On Wednesday 12 January, Cardinal Sarah will read out the Pope's Message during a Mass to commemorate the first anniversary of the earthquake. He will then meet with bishops and seminarians as well as with directors of Caritas and of international and volunteer organisations.
His final engagement in Haiti will take place on 13 January when he will celebrate Mass in the convent of the "Paridean" Daughters of Mary who lost fifteen religious in the disaster, while twelve other sisters were seriously injured.
The visit also has the aim of thanking everyone who collaborated in the huge efforts of the emergency period, and of renewing the Church's commitment in the reconstruction, encouraging a new phase of charitable commitment.
Manila (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – More than two million people braved rain, wind and crowds in order to touch the statue of Jesus, and ask for a miracle. Every year, the statue, known as the Black Nazarene, is carried in procession through the streets of Quiapo (Manila).
The celebration began at dawn last Sunday and went on for 14 hours, attracting people from every walk of life, shouting “Viva the Nazarene”. Devotees followed the statue for about five kilometres from Quiapo’s minor basilica to the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park. About 400 devotees were hurt attempting to touch the statue.
“Every year, the number of devotees grows because they see themselves in the image of the suffering and struggling Black Nazarene,” Card Gaudencio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, told reporters. The majority of them are “poor, ordinary Filipinos.”
The statue presents Jesus bent under the weight of the Cross. A Spanish Augustinian priest brought it to Manila in1607 on a ship from Mexico.
According to tradition, a fire broke out on board but the image of Christ was miraculously spared, just taking on a darker hue.
Despite the damage, the people of Manila decided to keep the image and honour it. Since then, it has been called the Black Nazarene and many people believe they were healed just by touching it.
Over the centuries, the aura of miracle surrounding the image of Christ has made the statue into a symbol of the Filipino people.
A few years ago, the country’s bishops accepted to have a copy made for Mindanao Christians, who are too far away to take part in the Quiapo procession. Instead, celebrations are held simultaneously in Cagayan de Oro on 9 January, the feast day of the Black Nazarene, and on Good Friday.
- NEWS.COM.AU REPORT: Brisbane deserted as floods arrive
- 10 dead, 67 missing in Queensland
- AN eerie calm enveloped Brisbane's Central Business District this morning as the inner city awoke to a watery sun.
The CBD generally comes alive on weekdays about 6am with cafes and coffee shops doing a roaring trade with morning workers, the Courier-Mail reports.
The back streets behind the shopping centres are generally crammed with deliverymen and the main arterial roads carry thousands of vehicles as tradesmen head north and south to work sites.
However, this morning the roads were virtually deserted and as one observer remarked you could actually hear a pin drop.
A Courier Mail team counted just 11 cars heading south on Ann Street over a five minutes period - usually at the same time of the morning it would be 800.
Police have warned all Brisbane residents to avoid travelling to the city center if at all possible today as a record flood threat looms.
Police and SES volunteers are also evacuating homes in Brisbane's west as Brisbane mayor Campbell Newman warns some areas could go completely under.
Life in a tattered tent in a crowded makeshift camp with no alternative on the horizon, threats to personal safety and the need to scramble for food and clean water are fueling the growing anger, said Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Haitien, president of the Haitian bishops' conference.
"The people of Haiti are tired of misery," Archbishop Kebreau said in a Jan. 4 interview with Catholic News Service during a visit to the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "They are tired of living in their tents. The people are saying they are not happy. They're frustrated and angry. That provokes violence."
More than 1 million people continue to live in hundreds of settlements that sprouted after the 35-second magnitude 7 earthquake. At least 230,000 people were killed.
He expressed concern that the surge of hopefulness felt by Haitians at the world's compassionate response immediately after the Jan. 12 quake has given way to a feeling of abandonment. People don't think their pleas are being heard any longer, he said.
Citing the widespread cholera epidemic that has claimed 3,650 lives since mid-October, Archbishop Kebreau called upon Haitian authorities to openly discuss the source of the disease and acknowledge the concerns of Haitians.
Although tests showed the cholera strain originated in south Asia and was traced to the Artibonite River in central Haiti, authorities have declined to link the outbreak to the alleged dumping of human waste from an outpost of U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal located on the waterway.
"The problem is that the government knows it comes from Nepal," he said. "But the government doesn't have the guts to say it openly. You have the United Nations troops from Nepal so people are reacting to that because the government hasn't acted.
"Truth and openness," he added, "would resolve a lot of trouble."
The archbishop's unease about the potential for violence stems in part from Haiti's 207-year history, which has been scarred by strong-armed rule and violent efforts to overthrow that rule. Only recently has the country experienced relative calm and peaceful government transitions.
However, violence flared again in early December. Hundreds of protesters blocked streets and set fires in the capital of Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien and other communities to express their dissatisfaction with the results of the Nov. 28 presidential election amid charges of fraud.
The country's Provisional Electoral Council determined that Jude Celestin, a protege of outgoing President Rene Preval, had narrowly finished second among 18 candidates, ahead of popular carnival singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly. Preval, who has maintained a low profile throughout his two terms as president, has been widely criticized for not taking a leading role in earthquake recovery efforts.
Haiti's new president will be chosen in a runoff between Celestin and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, who topped all candidates in first-round balloting. Originally scheduled for Jan. 16, the runoff has been postponed to allow more time to prepare ballots and polling stations.
While declining to comment on the candidates, Archbishop Kebreau said he feared the election, whenever it occurs, could spark renewed violence if charges of fraud resurface.
Still, there's more than the election contributing to the restive atmosphere, according to Archbishop Kebreau. In addition to Haitian government officials, the United Nations and even aid agencies often are skewered by Haitians who believe international parties have failed to deliver on promises to rebuild the country, he said.
"Just imagine all the millions that supposedly are arriving (in Haiti)," he said. "Where are they going?"
Archbishop Kebreau urged government, U.N. and aid representatives to begin talking with average Haitians to discover their needs. He also offered the Haitian Catholic Church as a bridge between the parties.
"The problem we have is the church is marginalized," he said. "They (government officials and aid workers) don't make contact with us. The church is present and filled with the people and we could give them information. We can help them, but they don't ask us.
"One gets the impression that they are more interested in making money than taking care of people," he said.
Archbishop Kebreau, who has rallied the church to meet pastoral needs despite the country's enormous poverty, is buoyed by the prospect of rebuilding parish infrastructure in the earthquake zone under a newly formed commission. Known in English as the Program for the Reconstruction of the Church in Haiti, or PROCHE, which means "close by" in French, the commission will review and approve parish projects to ensure that building plans meet modern construction codes.
PROCHE primarily will administer an estimated $33 million contributed by American Catholics designated for reconstruction. About 70 parishes were destroyed in the quake.
Crafted in a venture between the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services, PROCHE could serve as a model for all of Haiti, he said.
"It's a unique opportunity for the church to use this experience to give the world a different perspective (of Haiti)," the archbishop said.
"We must learn from one another," he added. "We need to learn from everyone without distinction of race or color."
In this regard Bishop Kussala says that “according to what I have been told by an Acholi leader from northern Uganda, the LRA leadership seems to be divided between two options: attack during the referendum or wait for its conclusion and see if a new military operation will be taken against them by the armies of the Countries threatened by this group (Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan) with American support. In this case, the LRA will attack different parts of southern Sudan. It seems to have prevailed the second option.” The Acholi are the main population of northern Uganda and the LRA leadership is composed of members from this ethnic group.
Bishop Kussala also reports that in his diocese, one notices the return of southern Sudanese who lived in the north, to the extent of “20-40 people a day.” “These people,” says the Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, “find themselves in serious trouble because they have only a few personal effects with them. They are hosted by relatives and acquaintances, but our territory will find it difficult to absorb this flow of people, also because various agricultural infrastructure have been destroyed by previous LRA raids.”
According to Bishop Kussala about 30,000 southern Sudanese living in Khartoum intend to return to the south before the conclusion of the referendum. “We do not have the means and facilities, however, to welcome and support all these people,” concludes the Bishop.
St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
ABBOT AND FOUNDER
Feast: January 11