Salvadoran Drive Under Way to House Quake Victims

$114 Million Sought From Country´s Citizens

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, FEB. 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church has launched a campaign to collect $114.3 million to construct durable homes for 1.1 million people affected by the Jan. 13 earthquake.



Father Jesus Delgado, who celebrated Sunday Mass in the Cathedral of San Salvador on behalf of Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle, said that the initiative is counting on 20% of the population, who are financially well off, to contribute the funds.

The quake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, caused 827 deaths, injured 180,000, and damaged or destroyed 220,000 houses. More than 91,700 houses remained uninhabitable, the families homeless. The government has only offered to construct temporary refuge centers of wood and sheet steel, since the rainy season is fast approaching.

Father Delgado said the initiative is "very just, honest and human." If Salvadorans living in the United States are able to send $1,700 a year to help their people, he asked, why shouldn´t the wealthy who live in the country "not contribute to those affected who remained homeless?"

The priest thanked Catholics and other religious denominations worldwide for the aid they continue to provide in terms of food, blankets, medicines and other first-aid goods.

Father Delgado mentioned the visit of Honduran Cardinal-designate Oscar Andrés Rodríguez, and Washington´s Cardinal-designate Theodore McCarrick, who visited the devastated areas and gave spiritual encouragement and material help to the victims.

Caritas-Latin America´s solidarity with El Salvador was evident this past weekend at a meeting in Cuba, attended by Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez, president of Caritas-Latin America.

Father Delgado said that Archbishop Saenz Lacalle has been traveling in Europe seeking help. Caritas-Spain alone has contributed more than $6 million to relief efforts.