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Haiti: Phase II


Forty-eight years ago my wife Margaret and I were in Port-Au-Prince on our honeymoon. It was the first week of our marriage and we visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption for God's blessings on our marriage. Almost five decades later, we are grateful for God's blessings.

Today, the cathedral is in ruins. The archbishop of Port-Au-Prince is dead. As many as 20 priests and seminarians are known to be dead as well. An estimated 200,000 people have died as a result of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Agencies boost effort to help Haitians

WASHINGTON -- Facing a growing humanitarian crisis after the largest earthquake in Haiti in two centuries, Catholic aid agencies and world governments were boosting efforts to respond to the needs of hundreds of thousands of injured and homeless.

Agencies such as Jesuit Refugee Services and Catholic Relief Services as well as smaller organizations from around the world have raised millions of dollars to provide medical services, feed and shelter people and head off the rapid spread of disease.

The agencies were coordinating efforts with other religious, nongovernmental and government operations as hunger grew and some Haitians became increasingly impatient because they had received little or no assistance in the week since the Jan. 12 quake.

Caritas officer blogs experiences in Haiti


VATICAN CITY -- Amid the chaos and rubble, survivors of the Haiti earthquake sing and pray together, showing unity in times of devastation, said Michelle Hough, a communications officer for Caritas Internationalis.

Hough, who works in the Vatican-based headquarters of the umbrella organization for national Catholic charities, was sent to Haiti as a member of the international rescue staff to help with operations in the area. Hough has been recounting her experiences through daily blog updates from Haiti.

Haiti, desperate poverty even before the earthquake


Editor’s note: Tom Roberts, NCR editor at large, traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in October with two other journalists, winners of Catholic Relief Services’ Eileen Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence. The trip was sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, which prepared the itinerary. As such, it serves as a backgrounder to the current disaster.

HAITI and DOMINICAN REPUBLIC -- Our small group and several dozen other people, most of them presumably from Haiti, embarked on a trip from the ground level of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport in late October. No one opened or inspected any of our bags or the various boxes going on board the small propeller-driven commuter plane. No one was required to go through any screening devices.

It was the first time since 9/11 that any of us -- three journalists and two staff members of Catholic Relief Services -- could recall leaving a U.S. airport for anywhere without having to go through even minimal security. In a later phone call to the airline counter, a man who claims he’d been loading passengers there for five years said the airline never conducted any security because it was small and isn’t considered a threat.

US grants temporary protected status for Haitians

Haitians currently living in the United States without legal status will be granted temporary protected status, allowing them to remain in the country and legally hold jobs, announced Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Jan. 15.

In a teleconference, Napolitano said temporary protected status will be extended to Haitians who were in the United States as of Jan. 12, the day a magnitude 7 earthquake flattened much of Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince.

The designation will continue for the next 18 months, she said, and people may apply immediately.

She said Haitians who are not currently in the United States should not attempt to travel there to qualify for the status. "They will not be eligible and will be repatriated," Napolitano said.

She said she understands that the dire conditions in Haiti make it "tempting to seek refuge elsewhere," but encouraged people to remain in their country to help in rebuilding.

Since the earthquake, calls have escalated to protect Haitians in the United States from deportation and allow them greater freedom to send money back to their homeland.

A downward spiral, but 'Christians will remain'


Even a casual review of the Vatican's foreign policy interests over the last few decades would confirm that the Middle East -- in Christian parlance, the Holy Land -- is at the top of the list. In part, that's because the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is key not only to stability in the region, but to relationships between Islam and the West and between Christianity and Judaism. In part, too, it's because the Christian population of the Holy Land is in freefall, with the nightmare scenario being that one day soon there will be no Christians left in the land of Christ.

As one Arab Christian told The Jerusalem Post recently, speaking anonymously for fear of backlash: "We're trapped between two larger peoples that don't like each other … and they don't like us either."

Relatives of Haiti earthquake victims pray

MIAMI -- Martine Jeudi held photos of her aunt and other relatives in her hand at a Miami church Jan. 13 as she prayed for victims of the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12 and devastated areas of Port-au-Prince, the capital.

"My aunt was killed," said Jeudi, 36, who came from Hollywood to attend a memorial prayer service at Notre Dame D'Haiti Church. "My other relatives are missing. The building (where they lived) was destroyed."

Catholic agencies prepare for long-term relief

Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services has been asked by the Vatican to coordinate the church's relief and recovery efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The U.S. bishops are asking parishes across the United States to take up a second collection Jan. 16-17 to help ease "the terrible suffering of our brothers and sisters in Haiti" after a magnitude 7 earthquake.

Moderate Muslims confront Islamic radicalism


A recent report from Duke University praised U.S. and Canadian Muslim leaders for fighting to keep Islamic radicalism out of their communities by condemning terrorism, self-policing, and becoming active in politics.

Within days, in what seemed to confirm the "Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans" report from Duke, a group of 20 imams -- 19 Canadian, one American -- issued a fatwa, or religious edict, condemning Islamic extremist attacks as an attack on all North American Muslims. The fatwa urged rank-and-file Muslims to "expose" radicals, and relay the message to Muslims abroad that they have religious freedom.

CRS expects 'thousands and thousands' Haiti dead, injured


Catholic Relief Services was preparing for "thousands and thousands" of dead and injured people in the wake of the most devastating earthquake to strike Haiti in two centuries, said Karel Zelenka, the agency's country representative.

Among those reported dead were Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince and Zilda Arns Neumann, a pediatrician who founded the Brazilian bishops' children's commission and sister of Brazilian Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, retired archbishop of Sao Paulo.

A group of Montfort priests and seminarians initially reported to have died in Port-au-Prince were not even in the city and were not killed, a spokesman said.

In an e-mail from the capital, Port-au-Prince, Zelenka told his colleagues at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that damage was "incredible all around."

In response, CRS initially has committed $5 million to help survivors, said John Rivera, the agency's communications director.



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July 18-31, 2014


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