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Vatican Establishes 12 Aid Centers in Haiti

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist Responding to the catastrophe in Haiti, the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” has announced that it has established 12 sites on the ground in the stricken island nation to distribute food, water, clothing, medical aid and shelter to the population. In a statement released yesterday by the Vatican Information Service, the Pontifical Council announced that it has named Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international relief agency of the U.S. bishops, as coordinator of the Church’s relief efforts in Haiti. "CRS has been holding on-site meetings with the Haitian Episcopal Conference, the apostolic nuncio and several foreign Catholic charitable agencies, now operating in Port-au-Prince, to asses and respond to the disaster,” the statement said. "The group initiated immediately the provision of food, water, clothing, shelter and medical aid for the displaced survivors in informal camps. Twelve sites have now been jointly determined as distribution points for further provision with security and operational assessments already undertaken. Personnel and supplies from neighbouring Santo Domingo and other nations continue to arrive through a variety of Catholic aid organizations.” However, the announcement of the Vatican's partnership with CRS  has caused a stir in some quarters because of the organization's alignment with groups that do not support Church teaching. Since the Haitian disaster, it has been criticized for taking money from organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that are heavily involved in international population control programs. When confronted about these liaisons, CRS communications manager Thomas Price said: " . . . The Catholic Church often participates in humanitarian initiatives that include a large range of partners — and we do not always agree with everything they stand for. However, the work that is undertaken directly with any of our partners always strictly adheres to Church teaching. We do not provide or promote artificial birth control and would never accept funding from any donor that would compromise the agency's adherence to Catholic teaching." Meanwhile, work on the ground in Haiti must go on, and even though the world’s outpouring of generosity has been great, a huge task lies ahead. "The needs and challenges remain significant, particularly on the level of movement of goods and people and security, and are likely to grow as the effects of the earthquake in and beyond Port-au-Prince become increasingly evident." © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com

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