Death of archbishop reported as Catholics mobilise in Haiti

By staff writers
January 13, 2010

As the Pope said the Catholic church would respond and the Catholic aid agency CAFOD pledged money to the relief effort this afternoon, it emerged that Joseph Serge Miot, the Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince, had been killed in the Haiti earthquake.

The Associated Press reported that Father Pierre Le Beller of the Saint Jacques Missionary Centre in western France, said fellow missionaries in Haiti told him they found Miot's body in the ruins of the archdiocesen office.

The order of missionary priests was officially founded in 1951 by the bishop of Gonaives, Haiti. Though its headquarters are in France, it retains a strong presence in Haiti and traces its unofficial missionary activity back to 1860.

Meanwhile, the international aid agency CAFOD, a member of the Caritas Federation, pledged £100,000 to Caritas partners to assist with the relief effort following Tuesday's earthquake on the Caribbean Island.

As rescue efforts search for survivors among the rubble following the earthquake, CAFOD's partners will be carrying out needs assessments.

At present there are no accurate figures of the number of dead and those made homeless by the quake, but it is clear that with a population of around 9 million people, 3 million of whom live in the devastated capital Port Au Prince, substantial humanitarian assistance will be required.

The money pledged will help CAFOD partners supply water, food, medicines and shelter to the most vulnerable in the worst affected areas.

CAFOD's Head of Latin America and the Caribbean, Clare Dixon said: "Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, its people are used to civil strife, hurricanes and floods, earthquakes are not a normal occurrence, and with the majority of the population living in abject poverty, this earthquake will greatly increase their suffering."

The earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, was the strongest to hit Haiti for 200 years and was follwed by two strong aftershocks, toppling buildings, including the ornate National Palace and the headquarters of the UN peacekeepers.

Speaking at his weekly general audience, Pope Benedict XVI also appealed to the international community and individuals to be quick and generous in their aid.

"The Catholic Church will immediately activate (its aid) through its charity institutions in order to respond to the most urgent needs of the population," he said.

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