Pope Francis addressed the participants of a meeting convened by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and the Pontifical Council for Latin America to mark the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti. Among those present were representatives of the Holy See, bishops and Episcopal conferences, as well as charitable and religious organizations.
The two day conference, entitled "The Communion of the Church: Memory and Hope for Haiti, 5 Years After the Earthquake” sought to place a spotlight on continuing reconstruction efforts on the island.
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In his address, Pope Francis thanked the bishops of Haiti as well as the representatives of the charitable institutions who continue to aid the people of the island-nation.
“Through the help given to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, we have shown that the Church is a great body, one in which the various members care for one another. It is in this communion, prompted by the Holy Spirit, that our charitable service finds its deepest motivation.”
Turning his attention towards rebuilding efforts, the Pope explained that all that needs to be done “rests on three solid pillars: the human person, ecclesial communion, and the local Church.”
The person, he said, is at the centre of the Church’s activities, thus ensuring that material needs are met in order to help Haitians to “further their own spiritual and religious lives.”
“In this phase of reconstruction, humanitarian and pastoral activities are not in competition with one another, but rather are complementary,: each needs the other, and together they help Haitians to be mature persons and Christians capable of devoting themselves to the good of their brothers and sisters.”
Regarding the second pillar of ecclesial communion, the Holy Father reflected on the various dioceses, religious institutions and charitable organizations who continue to work in the country. However, he stressed that charity is more authentic and incisive when lived in communion.
“Charity is the inner life of the Church and is manifested in ecclesial communion. Communion between bishops and with bishops, who are the first ones responsible for the service of charity.”
Finally, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of the local Church, encouraging the bishops, priests and religious of Haiti to become witnesses of evangelical charity through prayer, listening to the word of God and receiving the Sacraments.
“The Church in Haiti must become always more alive and fruitful, to witness to Christ and to make its contribution to the development of the nation.”
Concluding his address, the Pope expressed his gratitude to those present and urged them to continue along the path of healing and rebuilding Haiti.