In Haiti, Resurrection is on the Horizon

Dear Friend,

Each year, we as Church commemorate the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week and our celebration of Easter. This year, we will gather in prayer against the backdrop of the suffering of our brothers and sisters after the disasters in Haiti and Chile.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the chairman of Catholic Relief Services’ board, has said that the images of Good Friday and Easter Sunday are very appropriate in describing Haiti today. When he first heard of the massive earthquake, he happened to be in Rome and was drawn to our Mother Church, St. Peter’s Basilica, where he knelt and prayed before the beautiful statue of the Pietà. As he described it, the image he saw before him was of Haiti as the broken, bloody body of Jesus in the arms of his Blessed Mother, crying out to the world for aid and assistance.

But, like the story of Jesus, that cry is not the last word. When Archbishop Dolan and I traveled to Haiti for the funeral of the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, who had been killed in the earthquake, we saw destruction, suffering and despair. But we also saw hope. CRS already had a large presence in Haiti, and we were able to begin emergency relief very quickly. Neighbors helped neighbors, sharing food, rescuing people from the rubble, working together to build makeshift shelters. And in the faces of the Haitian people, you don’t see defeat. You see resilience and a determination to rebuild.

Our Catholic community here in the United States has responded generously and will play a major role in that rebuilding effort. And as you have come to expect, CRS will be good stewards of the resources you have given, maintaining the highest standards of transparency and accountability as we move forward.

As we embark on this great work as part of the universal Catholic Church, we will respond in concert with all of its diverse conferences of bishops, networks and organizations. As a member of Caritas Internationalis, CRS will collaborate closely with our sister Caritas agencies as well as Caritas Haiti.

In Chile, CRS is providing technical and financial assistance, and is working closely with Caritas Chile.

One hallmark of our response as Catholics is that our goal is the holistic development of the human person. We will take into account the multiple dimensions of each individual as a whole person, including physical, social and spiritual dimensions. The response of Catholics in the United States will serve all of these dimensions.

Our response will also be based on the hopes and aspirations of the Haitian Church and the Haitian people. We must listen to their voices and involve them in every step of the process. Haitians are eager to be involved, and they have a right—and a responsibility—to do so.

The coming months present many challenges. As the rainy season approaches, we will continue to provide better shelter for those left homeless by the earthquake. We are already formulating plans for long-term reconstruction and recovery. And we are drawing upon the lessons learned from our five-year rebuilding effort after the Indian Ocean tsunami to ensure that whatever we do is done right.

Haiti may have gone through a dark night of the soul. But the hope and promise of resurrection is on the horizon.

Thank you for your continued support and your prayers.

Ken Hackett

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