AMMAN, Jordan - A senior Catholic aid official said humanitarian agencies are "trying to pick up the pieces" of Gaza's badly destroyed infrastructure, desperately hoping that the declared truce between Israel and the militant Hamas will hold.

Published in International

BETHLEHEM - Bethlehem’s Christians and Muslims know where to turn for help. If they fall ill, there’s Holy Family Hospital sponsored by the Knights of Malta. An abandoned child or a battered woman will find care at La Creche, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity. The best schools include the Frere School, sponsored by the De La Salle Brothers, the Rosary Sisters School, the Terra Sancta Girls High School, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and the Salesian Boys Industrial High School. For university the choice is Palestine’s first university, the De La Salle Brothers’ Bethlehem University.

Published in Holy Land Christians

VATICAN CITY - Instability and increasing violence in Syria have prompted Pope Benedict XVI to cancel the planned visit to the war-torn nation by a delegation of cardinals and bishops.

Instead, the pope announced Nov. 7, he has sent a smaller group to Lebanon to deliver a $1 million donation and boost the church's humanitarian response to the crisis.

The pope also appealed for dialogue to end the Syrian conflict, saying: "We have to do everything possible because one day it could be too late."

"I renew my invitation to the parties in conflict, and to all those who have the good of Syria at heart, to spare no effort in the search for peace and to pursue through dialogue the path to a just coexistence, in view of a suitable political solution of the conflict," Pope Benedict said at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"I continue to follow with great concern the tragic situation of violent conflict in Syria, where the fighting has not ceased and each day the toll of victims rises, accompanied by the untold suffering of many civilians, especially those who have been forced to abandon their homes," he said.

He said he had hoped to send a delegation of three cardinals, three bishops and a priest to Syria during the world Synod of Bishops, which met for three weeks at the Vatican in October, to show solidarity with victims and encourage peace negotiations. The papal delegation to Damascus was to have included Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who is chairman of the board of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

"Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances and developments, it was not possible to carry out this initiative as planned," the pope said, "and so I have decided to entrust a special mission to Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum," which promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable giving.

Together with Cor Unum's secretary, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, and Michel Roy, secretary-general of the Vatican-based umbrella group of Catholic aid agencies, Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Sarah was to be in Lebanon Nov. 7-10, where he was to meet with priests, religious and lay representatives of Christian churches in Syria.

"He will visit a number of refugees from that country and will chair a meeting of Catholic charitable agencies to coordinate efforts, as the Holy See has urgently requested, to provide assistance to the Syrian people, inside and outside the country," the pope said of Cardinal Sarah's mandate.

The cardinal will deliver a $1 million donation made by participants in the Oct 7-28 synod and the pope himself. The money is to provide humanitarian aid and support local churches in an effort to bring some relief to those hit by the crisis, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

The papal delegation's visit itself is also meant to "prompt all sides involved, as well as those who hold dear the good of Syria, to seek a just and peaceful solution to the conflict, Father Lombardi added.

Syria's civil war has left thousands dead and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people since March 2011.

Published in International
August 16, 2012

Flood calls forth aid

Half-a-million people stuck in evacuation centres while their Manila-area homes are underwater are getting a helping hand from Development and Peace.

The development arm of Canadian Catholics is sending $100,000 to help its Filipino partners – Caritas Philippines, Urban Poor Associates and the Centre for Environmental Concern – deal with Manila-area flooding. A month of unrelenting rain has displaced close to three million Filipinos. Caritas estimates 1.1 million flood refugees are staying with family or friends, but another 500,000 are in schools, government buildings and community centres.

Typhoon Saola began dumping heavy rain in the Philippines July 28. The typhoon was followed by seasonal monsoon rains. The government claims illegal settlements along creek beds have made the situation worse.

The flood crisis has sparked another round of debate about relocating slum dwellers in Manila. But for Caritas-Philippines and its National Secretariat for Social Action, the question is what to do right now.

As of Aug. 10 the Caritas emergency fund known as Alay Kapwa Fund stood at just 2.4 million pesos, or $56,000.

"Aside from launching local appeal to the dioceses, NASSA Caritas-Philippines is also tapping international partners to join us in conducting the emergency response," said a NASSA Caritas-Philippines report.

Toronto's sizable Filipino community is also coming together to help with a fundraiser Saturday, Aug. 17 at Our Lady of the Assumption, 2565 Bathurst St. 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The parish is using its patronal feast to collect non-perishable food, over-the-counter medicine and money. Contributions will go directly to Caritas Philippines.

Published in International

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is expanding its commitment to 18 million west Africans in the Sahel region threatened with starvation.

The Catholic aid and development agency is working with Caritas Internationalis to launch food and seed distribution projects in Mauritania, Chad and Senegal to reach 300,000 people. The new projects are in addition to programs for 19,500 households in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. D&P is funding the Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso program along with Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Published in Canada

WASHINGTON - Federal funding for foreign poverty-focused development and humanitarian aid programs must be preserved as Congress continues debating the fiscal year 2013 budget, said officials from two church agencies.

In particular, officials from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services called for support of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, because of high levels of success in the prevention and treatment of AIDS around the world under the program.

Published in International

TORONTO - Africans still want the kind of genuine partnership with Canadians the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has fostered over the last four decades, the provincial superior of the Jesuits in Eastern Africa said — even if CIDA has cancelled funding to every D&P partner in Africa outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"It matters," Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator told The Catholic Register. "It's not only about Canadians giving to Africa. There's an element of mutuality there. It's not just about the money. It is important to keep that contact."

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA
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