Hope for Haiti
Pope Benedict and Vatican commemorate earthquake anniversary with Mass, prayer and encouragement.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers and solidarity to the people of Haiti, encouraging them to build new civil and social structures as they reconstruct buildings and the country’s infrastructure one year after a massive earthquake.
Marking the first anniversary of the quake Jan. 12 with a telegram read by an envoy, Pope Benedict said he hoped international financial aid and volunteer assistance would continue, but he also said he hoped “the Haitian people will be the chief protagonists of their present and their future.”
The papal envoy to Haiti, Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, was taking part in events marking the anniversary of the quake, which left about 230,000 people dead and more than a million homeless.
In his telegram, the Pope told the people of Haiti, “The time has come to rebuild not only material structures, but especially the civil, social and religious coexistence” of the country.
The anniversary also was commemorated in Rome, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, celebrated Mass Jan. 12 with members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican and with Haitians living in Italy.
The cardinal told ambassadors from around the world that the Pope counted on their countries to “promote and carry forward every useful initiative that would contribute to the full rebirth” of Haiti.
During the evening Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Cardinal Bertone said God, working in and through the Church, has not abandoned the people of Haiti and is not deaf to the anguished cries of “the many families who have lost everything: homes, savings, jobs and lives.”
He said, “A concrete and visible response passes through the solidarity of all the sons and daughters of the Church, a solidarity that cannot be limited to the initial emergency, but must become an ongoing, concrete project.”