Caritas President Visits Haiti

Calls for Spiritual Reconstruction Along With Material

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, FEB. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The president of Caritas Internationalis visited the earthquake victims in Haiti, bringing them solidarity and aid as the relief effort continues.



Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga visited the destroyed cathedral in Port-au-Prince, observing the rubble of the archdiocesan buildings where Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot lost his life along with many others.

He also went to the Renaissance Hospital and the Champ de Mars camp where tens of thousands of people are taking refuge, Caritas reported.

The cardinal met with representatives of the Haitian bishops' conference, bringing with him aid from the Honduras. The meeting included a discussion about the relief and reconstruction efforts.

Cardinal Rodriguez met with the Caritas staff working in that country at the agency's Haitian headquarters.

He thanked all of the Caritas chapters from the various countries worldwide for their support. The agency reported that its members from 40 countries collected $198 million from private donors for the quake survivors. As well, another $36 million was promised to Caritas for Haiti from governments and institutions.

"It is essential we go on, in order to rebuild Haiti culturally and spiritually as well as materially," the prelate said.

The aid agency has given food to over 500,000 people, shelter kits to 43,000, and medical treatment to 12,000.

After a two-month campaign focused on relief, Caritas will begin a reconstruction program focused on housing, education and livelihoods, which will last up to five years.

The cardinal, who was accompanied by the president of Caritas Quintana Roo, Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cárdenas of Cancún-Chetumal, Mexico, as well as Archbishop Emilio Carlos Berlie Belaunzarán of Yucatán, concluded his visit with the address to the Caritas staff.

He gave particular thanks to those who hosted his visit: Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio to Haiti, Bishop Pierre Dumas, president of Caritas Haiti, and Father Serge Chadic, director general of Caritas Haiti.