Vatican Asks US Agency to Lead Haiti Effort

Catholic Relief Services Coordinating Earthquake Aid

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, JAN. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the U.S. bishops' conference, was asked by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to coordinate aid for earthquake victims in Haiti.

The country's capital, Port-au-Prince, was destroyed Tuesday in an earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter scale.

Although the number of casualties is unknown, it is estimated that 50,000 were killed, and 3 million others injured or homeless.

The country, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, is having trouble responding to the needs on its own.

A Vatican communiqué affirmed today that "as with other tragedies, Catholics are already being zealous in providing tangible aid."

"Several Catholic agencies are at work and are sending manpower, which is especially urgent," it added.

The council, "in direct contact with Catholic Relief Services," asked it to "coordinate the relief efforts at this stage," the communiqué stated.

It explained: "The 300 plus on-the-ground personnel, who have long been active in Haiti, and the past experience, expertise and resources of [Catholic Relief Services] will enable prompt and effective coordination of the Church's efforts, which, in the words of Pope Benedict, must be generous and concrete to meet the pressing needs of our Haitian brothers and sisters."

Wednesday in his general audience, Benedict XVI appealed to the "generosity of all people so that these our brothers and sisters who are experiencing a moment of need and suffering may not lack our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the international community."

He affirmed that the "Catholic Church will not fail to move immediately, through her charitable institutions, to meet the most immediate needs of the population."

Catholic Relief Services has set up a special Web site to respond to increased online traffic after the disaster.

Through the Web page, it offers a way to send donations by mobile phone to the earthquake victims.

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On the Net:

Catholic Relief Services: http://crs.org/