Thursday, January 14, 2010

Catholic institutions in ruins, says nuncio to Haiti

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio in Haiti, has offered a first-hand account of the devastation caused by the earthquake that shook Port-au-Prince on January 12.

“Port-au-Prince is completely devastated,” he said. “The cathedral, the archbishop's residence, all the great churches, all the seminaries are reduced to rubble. The pastor of the cathedral, who survived the earthquake, told me that the archbishop of Port-au-Prince perished under the rubble, along with hundreds of seminarians and priests who are under the rubble.”

He continued:

I found priests and nuns in the streets, without homes. The rector of the seminary survived, as did the dean of studies, but the seminarians are under the rubble. Everywhere, you can hear cries from under the rubble. The CIFOR-- Institute of Studies for the Men and Women Religious-- has collapsed with the students inside, participating in a conference. The nunciature building has withstood the earthquake, without any injuries, but we are all amazed! So many things are broken, including the tabernacle, but we are more fortunate than others. Many family members of the staff were killed, their homes destroyed. Everyone is calling for help. We will have problems of water and food before long. We cannot enter or stay inside the house much, as the earth continues to shake, so we are camped in the garden.
The nation of 8.8 million is 80% Catholic; the Church in Haiti has ten dioceses, 338 parishes, 791 priests, 1,851 sisters, and 421 seminarians.

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