November 11, 2010
WASHINGTON (November 11, 2010) — At their Fall General Assembly, November 15-18,
the U.S. bishops will receive an update on the situation in Haiti and the U.S.
Catholic Church’s emergency relief efforts so far, as well as plans to aid
long-term reconstruction, including rebuilding of Church
As it begins funding of Church reconstruction
projects in Haiti, the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America of the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently adopted two documents
that will help guide the work of the Subcommittee in this regard.
The first document outlines the overall vision for Church
collaboration and was issued by a gathering of bishops from around the world,
including all Haitian diocesan bishops, Catholic Relief Services and other
Church aid agencies during a meeting in Miami at the end of September.
The gathering called for a comprehensive view of
development. “We aim to build up every Haitian man and woman in his or her
totality: physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually,” the
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of
Miami, chairman of USCCB Haiti Advisory Group hosted the meeting. “The key
element in moving forward is unity,” Wenski said. “That means we need to get on
the same page, especially about how we’re going to rebuild.”
The Advisory Group has been charged with distributing $33 million collected
for Church needs from the Special Collection taken up in dioceses across the
United States immediately after January’s earthquake. This amount represents 40
percent of the total amount collected which totaled $83 million. The remaining
60 percent of the funds were assigned to Catholic Relief Services for
humanitarian relief and development work.
“The generosity of
American Catholics has been non-stop since the earthquake and we want to provide
a mechanism that we can all use to help the Haitians rebuild in a reliable,
transparent, accountable way,” said Archbishop Wenski.
General Assembly, the U.S. bishops also will hear about the formation of a
reconstruction and building unit, housed within the Haitian Conference of
Catholic Bishops, called “PROCHE.” This entity was approved by the Haitian
bishops also in September.
A French and Creole word that
means “close by,” PROCHE is also an acronym for Proximité Catholique avec
Haïti et son Eglise
(Catholic closeness with Haiti and her Church).
Designed to serve as a central coordination point, PROCHE will bring
together a wide range of stakeholders, including affected Haitians, Church
personnel, donors, engineers and others. It will support reconstruction
priorities across dioceses, coordinate projects within dioceses, and ensure
timely completion of projects built to international standards and within
“In all my years of working with Haiti,
I’ve never seen the type of collaboration between different parts of the Church
as I’ve seen since the earthquake,” said Archbishop Wenski, who will brief the
entire body of bishops on the global Church’s plans to rebuild church
infrastructure during the November meeting of the USCCB in Baltimore. “I will
ask the bishops to help motivate other Catholics interested in helping Haiti so
that we can pool our talents and our treasure in favor of the Church in
To assist in this process, the Haitian Bishops have
also issued a document entitled Partners
which contains a set of guidelines for groups and parishes
engaged in “twinning” relationships between Haiti and the Church around the
In the months ahead, Catholic Relief Services will
assist the U.S. bishops in reaching out to dioceses, colleges and parishes in
the United States to strengthen existing ties between the Church in the United
States and the Church in Haiti.
Keywords: Haiti, earthquake, Church in Haiti, PROCHE, Haiti Conference of
Catholic Bishops, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Subcommittee for
Church in Latin America, National Collections, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Haiti
Advisory Group, USCCB