Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Message from Paul Farmer, MD

Yesterday, it was my privilege to testify before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at their hearing on "Haiti: from Rescue to Recovery and Reconstruction."

I opened my testimony thus: "Today, my hope is to do justice to Haiti not by chronicling the events of the past two weeks, which are well known to you, but by attesting to the possibility of hope for the country, and of the importance of meaningful investment and sustainable development in Haiti. That said, I will not pretend that hope is not at times difficult to muster."

In my role as the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, as well as from my long-standing homes at Partners In Health and at Harvard, I have witnessed the many varieties of privation endured by Haiti as well as the country's extraordinary resilience. But in more than twenty-five years of working there, I have never seen devastation or suffering on this scale. The response from our community has been equally immense: acts of great courage within Haiti, and of great generosity beyond it.

I know that Haiti can and will recover. I believe that there is an opportunity to build Haiti back better. I am convinced that it will require a massive and ongoing commitment on all of our parts, and that the road will be a long one. We are fortunate to have many partners in this effort, in addition to the five thousand employees of Zanmi Lasante: my colleagues now joining them in Haiti, many of whom have been sharing updates with us and with you; the extraordinary team in Boston; the legions of PIH supporters, old and new, as well as our organizational partners and our colleagues at the Clinton Foundation and the UN. Together, we are all working to serve the people of Haiti, especially those marginalized by chronic poverty as well as the acute insult (to use medical terms) of January 12.

Please join us.

In gratitude,
To read the rest of Paul's Senate testimony, click here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tragic Inevitability: Trafficking in Haiti

Just as we learned from the tsunami a few years ago, tragedies of great magnitude lead to human (mainly child) trafficking, especially for organ procurement. Although many stories are surfacing (just enter "Trafficking Haiti" in your favorite search engine), here's one from Reuters about the response of Children's Charity Plan International. More to come, to be sure . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Victim: Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot

Click here for the Wall Street Journal story of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, who was killed in the earthquake in Haiti.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Health Care: A Message from NETWORK

Congress is confused about what to do about healthcare reform legislation. If there was ever a time that they need, and want, to hear from you, their constituents, it is now.

We at NETWORK, in collaboration with many other faith groups and healthcare advocates, urge everyone to call your representatives and senators this week to tell them they need to finish the job of passing healthcare reform legislation.

You can use the toll-free number 1-888-797-8717, made available by the Faithful Reform in Health Care coalition.

It is important to focus on representatives in the House right now, since the House must pass the Senate bill. But senators also need to hear from you because representatives will want them to improve the bill.

Please call your representative's office now. Then call back two more times to get to your senators' offices. Then ask other people to make the calls, too. Call all your members of Congress, even if you don't think it will make a difference. It will.

Here are some things you can say:

As one pastor in Kansas put it: one election half-way across the country has done nothing to change the desperate need of children and families in our community for affordable healthcare.

We don't expect a perfect bill but we need legislation now to move us toward fixing our broken healthcare system.

  • Without reform, tens of thousands will continue to needlessly die each year for lack of access to care.
  • Without reform, tens of millions will remain uninsured and without adequate access to a full range of services.
  • Without reform, health costs will continue to grow much faster than wages.
  • Without reform, many millions of hard-working people and their children will join the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.
  • Without reform, businesses, staggered by increasing employee health costs, will either drop coverage or will be unable to make needed investments.
  • Without reform, the nation's economy - and its ability to create jobs - will suffer.

Now is the time for political courage, vision, leadership and faith.

All members of Congress need to hear this message.

Call now, and call again every day this week, toll-free 1-888-797-8717.

After you make the calls to your senators and representative, you can also send them an e-mail via

(a copy will go to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.)

The Bishops on Health Care

Click here for the full text of the letter (dated January 26, 2010) from Cardinal DiNardo, Bishop Murphy, and Bishop Wester to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Health Care Effort Must Continue

From Catholic News Service:

With the fate of the current health reform bills in doubt, the next challenge is to convince members of Congress not to abandon the health reform effort entirely, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said January 22.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Haiti Earthquake Victim: Sister Marie Claude

Please click here for the Wall Street Journal story of Sister Marie Claude, a Daughter of Wisdom killed in the Haitian earthquake.

"Christian Churches Together" Statement on Haiti

From the USCCB:

Christian Churches Together in the USA okayed a common action against poverty across the country for April 2, and issued a statement of solidarity with earthquake-stricken Haiti at their January 12-15 meeting outside Seattle. Click here to read more of the USCCB press release.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Butterfly Circus

If you have 20 minutes to view this short film, "The Butterfly Circus," it's well worth your time. If you don't have 20 minutes, perhaps you could make time. It's a great story about hope and transformation on many levels. If you're viewing this on the blog, the film should appear below; just click "Play." If you're an e-mail subscriber, click here to view "The Butterfly Circus."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 25 - Day 8 - Witness through Hospitality

God of love, you have shown us your hospitality in Christ. We acknowledge that through sharing our gifts with all, we meet you. Give us the grace that we may become one on our journey together and recognize you in one another. In welcoming the stranger in your name may we become witnesses to your hospitality and your justice. Amen.

[Once again, we thank the Atonement Franciscans for the prayers this week. Thanks, too, to Sister Gerardine for displaying them in the college and sharing them with our blog.]

Statistics Worth Noting

The January 18-25 issue of America provides some sobering statistics about the Pentagon's budget. Here are the "Defense Trade-Offs" listed:

$1 million, the amount required to put one U.S. soldier into the field in Afghanistan for one year.

$3.6 billion, the cost of one month of war in Afghanistan.

$8 billion, the “reduced” amount committed to missile defense.

$7 billion, the amount the Navy will receive for seven vessels.

$7 billion, the amount the U.S. Air Force will spend to acquire 30 new fighters.

$5.7 billion, the unallocated price tag for sending every at-risk 4-year-old in the United States to quality pre-school.

$3 billion, the unallocated cost of preventing 59 million children in the developing world from going to school hungry.

$10 billion, the annual amount still needed to ensure that those same children have a classroom to go to.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 24 - Day 7 - Witness through Hope and Trust

God of hope, share your vision of the one church with us and overcome our doubts. Increase our faith in your presence, that all who profess belief in you may worship together in spirit and in truth. We especially pray for all who are in doubt right now, or whose lives are spent in the shadow of danger and fear. Be with them and give them your consoling presence. Amen

Pope: "Give a Soul" to the Internet

From Canada's Salt and Light TV:

Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging priests to embrace new media and thus “give a soul” to the internet. The priest’s place in the digital world was the focus of his message for the 44th World Day of Communications, which was released on the eve of the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. It will be officially presented on May 16th, which the Church recognizes as World Communications Day.

Click here for the full article and message.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 23 - Day 6 - Witness Through Faithfulness to the Scriptures

God, we praise and thank you for your saving Word as it reaches out to us through the Sacred Scriptures. We thank you too for the brothers and sisters with whom we share your Word. We pray for the light of the Holy Spirit, so that your Word may lead and direct us in our quest for greater unity. Amen

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day 5 - January 22 - Witness through Suffering

God our Father, look with compassion on our situations of poverty, suffering, sin, and death. We ask you for forgiveness, healing, comfort, and support in our ordeals. May your divine Spirit teach us the greatness of your compassion and help us stand alongside our sisters and brothers in difficulty. Filled with its blessings, may we in unity proclaim and share with the world the victory of your Son who lives for ever. Amen

Special Podcast on Haiti

Click here to access America's podcast which provides an update on the efforts of CRS in Haiti.

March for Life

Our prayers go out to all those who will be representing the rest of us at the March for Life in Washington, DC on Friday. Thank you for doing what you do!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day 4 - January 21 - Bearing Witness Through Celebrating our Faith

Lord God, we give you thanks for all the people and communities who have communicated the message of the Good News to us, and thus given us a solid foundation of our faith today. We pray that we too may together bear witness to our faith, so that others may know you and place their trust in the truth of salvation offered in Jesus Christ for the life of the world. Amen

From the SCC Philippine Unit

Thanks to Sister Maria Dolores for this reminder that there are many ways to aid those who have been affected by the Haitian earthquake:

From our Philippine Unit:

There is much suffering, family loss, shortage of water and food at present in Haiti. Since we at Margaretha Home are not able to send material relief or used clothing to Haiti ( as we did with the Ondoy victims), we thought to offer and give them spiritual relief.

All of us - the blind girls, the housemothers and staff and the Sisters - offer our afternoon merienda or snack or coffee break, and the amount saved was used to offer a Mass for our brothers and sisters in Haiti, who are suffering very much. We had a Mass offered for them in our Margaretha Home Chapel this afternoon. A bottle of water helped us to remember our thirsty Haiti brothers and sisters, including the volunteers, who are experiencing thirst due to water shortage. Everytime we drink water, we remember and pray for them. So during the offertory, we offered a poster made of newspaper clippings about the Haiti earthquake, put together by our blind special residents, and a bottle of water.

As we write this email, we thought to ask you to be one with us in remembering and praying for the victims and volunteers in Haiti every time we drink water. Each little or brief prayer whispered in hope-filled love goes a long way. As our Mother Pauline once said, "it is indeed a great grace, that God should permit us to help in the spread of His Kingdom"....yes, His Kingdom of hope among our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Thank you very much and God bless!

"The Only Doc"

Click here to read the story of Dr. Louise Ivers, a Harvard professor and a Partners In Health physician, who found herself in the position of being the only doctor available to treat Haitian earthquake victims immediately following the quake. She was at a meeting at the World Food Program building when the quake struck. Story is courtesy of CNN

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 20 - Day 3, Witness through Awareness

Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd, You encounter us and remain with us in everyday life. We pray for the grace to be aware of all you do for us. We ask that you prepare us to be open to all you offer us and bring us together in one flock. Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 19 - Day 2, Witness through Sharing Stories

God of history, we thank you for all who have shared their story of faith with us and so have given witness to your presence in their lives. We praise you for the variety of our stories both as individuals and churches. In these stories we see the unfolding of the one story of Jesus Christ. We pray for the courage and the conviction to share our faith with those with whom we come into contact, and so allow the message of your Word to spread to all. Amen.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Thanks to the Atonement Friars and Sisters for the prayers this week:

January 18-25, 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


"You Are Witnesses of These Things"

(Luke 24:48)

Throughout 2010, join Christians everywhere in praying "that they may all be one" joining our prayer with that of the Lord Jesus Christ.

January 18 - Day 1, Witness through Celebrating Life

God our creator, we praise you for all who give witness to their faith by their words and actions. In living life to the full we encounter your loving presence in the many experiences you offer us. May our common witness of celebrating life unite us in blessing you, the author of all life. Amen.

Prayer for Haiti


God of all creation, as we weep with our family in Haiti, console us. In this time of crisis, open our eyes to look beyond the disaster to see Christ in our brothers and sisters in Haiti, as Christ sees us. Be with us as we stand in solidarity with those living and working in Haiti. Be with us in our mourning and guide our efforts to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the grieving and stand for justice. With your mercy, sustain us at this time as we continue to work for peace and justice. Amen.

For the Haitian people, that help comes to them quickly and comfort comes to those who hurt. Lord, hear our prayer.

For the lost or buried, that they are found and reunited with their loved ones. Lord, hear our prayer.

For the relief workers, that they have the tools they need, the courage and the strength to respond fully. Lord, hear our prayer.

For the families in Haiti and in the United States who are waiting to hear from loved one, that good news comes to them. Lord, hear our prayer.

For those whose who have perished, may their souls rest with you, O Lord, where they will find eternal love.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

How much is too much?

In a recent blog post on the America website, James Martin, SJ asks, "Did CNN Go Too Far?" While the media gets accolades for making the plight of Haitian earthquake victims known to the world, Martin asks, "When does coverage become exploitation?" A question worth considering! Click here to read the post.

Temporary Protected Status

Thanks to all of you who attempted to sign the petition to urge President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians living in the U.S. By the time the message reached your Inbox on Friday, the President had already enacted the status.

We're continuing to recommend donation to Catholic Relief Services (CRS). If anyone has questions as to why, direct them to the CRS accountability page:
There, they'll find information about how efficiently and effectively their donations are used by CRS. The main CRS web page has become the CRS Haiti Emergency Page. Continue to check there for updates.

Friday, January 15, 2010

For Your Consideration

A message from Catholics United, for your consideration:

For the past few days, we have watched in horror as the people of Haiti suffer a great deal. The fact that Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere makes this week's earthquake all the more painful. Tens of millions of dollars are pouring into worthy charities. Governments appear to be mobilizing. Hopefully it is soon enough.

One issue that still needs immediate attention is the status of Haitians in the United States. Already, the White House has "paused" deportations of Haitian refugees. The next step is to grant Haitians the immigration protections offered to victims of war or disaster - what is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Will you take just one moment to sign our Emergency Petition to President Obama for Haitian Refugees? To sign the petition, click here.

TPS is granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to refugees who cannot safely return to their home country because of armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

This policy change has taken place before - in El Salvador, Honduras, Somalia, and Sudan. And unlike so many other issues, the president can do it himself. President Obama should instruct the Department of Homeland Security to grant Temporary Protected Status to undocumented Haitians in the United States. This will protect them from forcible deportation back to Haiti, allow them to work legally, and start the process of rebuilding and healing.

A fundamental tenet of Catholic Social Teaching is care for the immigrant. That is the lesson of the story of the Good Samaritan and the stranger on the Road to Jericho. Some 80% of Haitians are Catholic. While there is a need for immigration reform on a much larger scale, the urgency of the crisis in Haiti demands immediate action.

Click here to sign the petition.

We're also urging other Catholic groups and the Catholic Church itself to join our call to action. Please sign. We'll keep you up to date on what is going on.

Great Quote

Although I haven't seen the full text of the homily of Bishop Kevin Rhoades upon his installation as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN, I received the following quote which he used in his homily. It comes from the homily of John Paul II upon the canonization of Edith Stein:

"St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie. "

Enough said!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

LCWR Update on Haiti

From Marie Lucey, LCWRs Associate Director for Social Mission:

"All of us are very concerned about and saddened by yesterday's major earthquake in Haiti which has devastated Port-au-Prince. Executive Director Jane Burke has contacted LCWR members with sisters in Haiti to ask about their welfare. CRS has issued an Emergency Brief which includes a prayer for our brothers and sisters in Haiti, as well as suggestions about how to help. I'm sure we are all in solidarity with Haiti in this agonizing time."

Please click here to go to the CRS website, which includes the Emergency Brief. (Note: The FBI has issued an alert urging us to be careful about scams with regard to Haitian relief. We know that CRS is a reputable organization and that it has pledged $5 million to the immediate relief effort. Thus, I'm still suggesting that all financial donations flow through CRS at this time.)

Special Collection for Haiti this Weekend

The USCCB is urging parishes across the country to take up a special collection for Haiti this weekend. Click here for details and the letter from Cardinal George and Archbishop Dolan.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More on Haiti

Just after I hit "publish post," I received two e-mails regarding the situation in Haiti. One was from Pax Christi USA saying that it's not yet possible to communicate with Pax Christi Haiti, but to funnel donations through CRS (see previous post). The second e-mail was from our friends at Partners in Health, who have been asked to join the UN's efforts to aid the sick and injured. Here's that message:

In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: "Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS... Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us."
Donate now to support our earthquake relief efforts.
The earthquake has destroyed much of the already fragile and overburdened infrastructure in the most densely populated part of the country. A massive and immediate international response is needed to provide food, water, shelter, and medical supplies for tens of thousands of people.

With our hospitals and our highly trained medical staff in place in Haiti, Partners In Health is already mobilizing resources and preparing plans to bring medical assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest hit.

Both our teams in Boston and Haiti are already mobilizing to deliver resources as quickly as possible to the places where they are needed most.

Earthquake in Haiti: What Can We Do?

Every time a disaster occurs (such as this high-magnitude earthquake in Haiti), we wonder how we can help. The first place I turn is to Catholic Relief Services. Click here to make a donation toward the CRS effort to help in Haiti. Please let me know if you hear of any other efforts, and I'll be sure to post them. I'm sure we'll be hearing from religious communities with members in Haiti. I'll let you know those requests when they come in. In the meantime, don't forget to pray for those affected by this devastating earthquake.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Send a Justice for Immigrants Postcard

A message from Justice for Immigrants:

Immigration reform legislation may soon be considered Congress. Help us show your Senators and Representatives that Catholics and other supporters of immigrants want our elected officials to enact meaningful and compassionate immigration reform. Click here to access the postcards.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Second reminder: Educational materials for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11) are available at the Stop Trafficking website

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Americas Claim 12 Missionary Deaths in 2009

According to Zenit, 37 Catholic missionaries (12 in the Americas) were murdered worldwide in 2009. Some of those were reported right here on the pages of this blog -- Father Lorenzo Rosebaugh (May 18 in Guatemala), Father Ed Hinds (October 23 in New Jersey), and Sister Marguerite Bartz (November 1 in New Mexico). Let's continue to pray for them and for all missionaries. Click here to read the full story from Zenit.

Kiva revisited

From what you've read about Kiva on these pages previously, you may recall that exists to "connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty." As a person-to-person microlending site, Kiva allows the average person to make loans (as low as $25) to individuals around the world who are trying to make a living in difficult situations. Because of a generous Christmas gift of a Kiva Gift Certificate, I've been able to explore lending first-hand. As I receive updates on those who've received loans from my gift certificate, I'll share them with you. Go to the web site to learn more.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Call + Response: Human Trafficking

This is a repeat reminder about the film, Call + Response, called "the first feature rockumentary to expose the world's 27 million most terrifying secrets." Rather than reading a blog explanation, click here to check out the site. Not only will you learn more about the film, but you'll find out where it's playing and have the ability to request a screening near you!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Interesting Article on the Death Penalty

It seems that the group that attempted to give the most legal prominence to the death penalty has given up its efforts. Click here to read the NY Times article about the American Law Institute's abandonment of its project, "Group Gives Up Death Penalty Work in Frustration."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Partners In Health: Stand With Haiti

Partners in Health (PIH) is providing "real time" updates from Haiti, as its medical professionals strive to provide health care to those injured by the earthquake. Click here to go to the PIH "Stand with Haiti" website.