Amid cathedral rubble, Haitians celebrate church leaders' funerals

By  Catholic News Service
  • January 25, 2010
{mosimage}PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  - Amid the rubble of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Haitians celebrated the lives of the archbishop and vicar general of Port-au-Prince, both of whom were killed in the country's earthquake.

Church officials joined ordinary Haitians Jan. 23 for the funerals of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, who died when the impact of the Jan. 12 quake hurled him from a balcony, and Msgr. Charles Benoit, the vicar general whose body was pulled from the cathedral debris.

They were among more than 100,000 Haitians killed in the magnitude 7 quake; UN officials have said the final death toll might never be known.

In a message read on behalf of Cardinal Francis E. George, the U.S. bishops' conference president told Haitians, "The church in the United States stands with you."

"In our prayer, we recall that Jesus, too, wept before the tomb of one whom He loved," said the cardinal's message. "With you, we recall in trust that He is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself, even in our darkest hour."

Archbishop Miot's body was one of the first recovered after the earthquake. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, papal nuncio to Haiti, asked that it be taken to the coastal city of St. Marc because there was no electricity in Port-au-Prince. Local clergy asked that the archbishop's funeral be at the cathedral.

A statement from Caritas, the church's network of charitable aid agencies, said when Msgr. Benoit's body was found, his hands were around a reliquary with a host inside.

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