Letter From the CRS President

Dear Friend,

Just nine months ago, we were shocked and horrified by the images of destruction half a world away caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami. We saw the power of water and the frailty of humanity in its wake. And we responded with grief, with compassion and with help. Our outpouring for our brothers and sisters in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka was a tangible sign of solidarity. We are one human family.

At the same time, I'm sure there was a feeling that such devastation could never happen here, in a country like the United States. We were wrong.

The scenes of suffering and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi have unmasked our vulnerability. And as is the case in so many disasters, it was the poor who suffered the most.

Once again, there has been a tremendous response. Catholic Charities USA reports an outpouring from donors across the country. But we are also hearing messages of prayer and compassion, as well as offers of help, from our brothers and sisters from around the world. They have shown their solidarity with us. We are one human family.

The response of the U.S. Catholic community was strong and swift. Dioceses across the nation are providing tuition-free education for displaced children in Catholic schools. Catholic Charities agencies across the country are responding to the immediate needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina and are assisting evacuees who are coming into their communities. Even though its officials have also been displaced, Catholic Charities New Orleans is operating out of Baton Rouge, and is distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of food daily to evacuees. They are also providing crisis and trauma counseling to New Orleans' first responders. And Catholic Charities will continue to provide aid as the focus turns to long-term recovery.

Since Catholic Relief Services is not operational in the United States when it comes to delivering humanitarian assistance, we are providing technical and administrative assistance to Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Beaumont,Texas, as well as to Catholic Charities USA.

In the spirit of one human family, we offer our prayers to all who are suffering through this tragedy.


Ken Hackett

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