Catholic bishops plan rebirth for Haiti’s church

Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Catholic leaders in Southern Florida have unveiled long-term plans to help rebuild the Catholic Church and its shattered infrastructure in Haiti after the powerful institution was severely destroyed in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

“They are faced with incredible difficulties,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski told reporters in Miami before a special mass attended by bishops from Haiti, Latin America and Europe.

“At the same time, the bishops and clergies have tremendous hope,” he added underscoring how the Catholic Church around the world stepped forward to help Haiti after the massive earthquake.

Catholic officials recently met for several days in Miami and Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, in devising ways to rebuild the church.

Archbishop Wenski said the reconstruction effort will take shape as the Program for the Reconstruction of the Church in Haiti, or by the acronym PROCHE.

He said it seeks to establish a commission that studies and approves parish projects while ensuring that the building “process is as efficient as possible, as transparent as possible.”

The Miami archbishop said the program also will make sure that building plans follow construction standards and appropriate codes, stating that both Haitian and international members would be at the helm.

He said the plan is scheduled to go before the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for approval in November.

Archbishop Wenski said 60 Catholic churches in Haiti, including the Notre Dame Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince, were destroyed by the earthquake, with damages estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

An estimated 300,000 people were killed and 1.3 million left homeless by the quake. Archbishop Wenski said more than 100 nuns, priests, and top church leaders, including the archbishop and vicar general of Port-au-Prince, were among the dead.

Archbishop Wenski said three out of every five people in Haiti are Catholic.

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