The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have started raising funds last week to help Haitians following the series of severe natural calamities that devastated the island recently.
Anticipating the needs of Haiti for recovery and rebuilding following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that was immediately succeeded by Tropical Storm Grace, USCCB President Archbishop Jose H. Gomez have sent out letters to bishops last week to consider launching a "voluntary special collection" in their dioceses for the "Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund" that will be particularly used for the said purpose.
"The people of Haiti are likely to see ongoing hardship in the weeks ahead as they begin recovery and rebuilding efforts. Moreover, many parish churches, chapels, schools, and clinics were devastated which will impact faith communities for years. In response, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has sent a letter to all U.S. bishops asking them to consider taking up a voluntary special collection in their dioceses for the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund," the USCCB announced in a statement.
The USCCB said that they understand that American dioceses still face the impact of the ongoing COVID-1 pandemic but are fully aware that the faithful are generous enough to give what they can to help out those in Haiti.
"Archbishop Gomez acknowledged that many of the dioceses in the United States continue to be impacted financially by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but also recognized the generosity of the faithful and their deep care for those in need as confidence in their prayerful consideration and response to this effort," the USCCB pointed out.
The USCCB also explained that the funds collected will be coursed through Catholic Relief Services, which is on the ground in Haiti already providing immediate humanitarian needs, or through Catholic Charities USA. Both agencies are said to be USCCB's official relief agencies, who have their local counterparts in Haiti that are capable of providing response for immediate emergency needs, as well as to "aid in long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts."
In addition, the USCCB clarified how the collected funds will be distributed to those in need in Haiti.
"The funds will be used in response to the earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace calamities in Haiti and any other disasters that occur and will be distributed where they are most needed. However, if such purpose(s) become unnecessary, impractical or impossible to fill, USCCB may use such contributions for other emergency disaster relief where it is most needed as determined by the Committee on National Collections using its emergency response protocol," the USCCB statement stressed.
Accordingly, the USCCB through the National Collections Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America has already approved the release of a $10,000 grant for Haiti's three dioceses that were "heavily impacted" by the earthquake and the tropical storm.
The said grant is in addition to the $10,039,750 already released to Haiti last 2010 to 2012 for the first earthquake that devastated the island, which was used for the repair of various churches, novitiates, and schools there.
Following the assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moise last July, Haiti was hit with a terribly strong earthquake that flattened many structures, injured 6,000 people, and left almost 2,000 dead before Tropical Storm Grace entered their jurisdiction three days after.
The storm was reported to have caused mudslides and flooding in "15 inches of rain," further complicating the sufferings of Haitians. Videos of the storm's aftermath actually show gut-wrenching scenes of Haitians crying in desperation as makeshift refugee camps for the earthquake was drenched along with the people in it.