Vatican City, Oct 14, 2016 / 05:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has decided to send an initial contribution of $100,000 to Haiti to help with emergency recovery in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the Vatican announced Friday. Donated through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the money will be used to support flood victims, and “is intended as a first and immediate concrete expression of the feelings of paternal spiritual closeness and encouragement of the Holy Father toward the people and territories affected,” an Oct. 14 communique from the Vatican read.
Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in the morning on Oct. 4. A category four storm with winds racing at 145mph, it is the most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade, devastating Haiti, which is still reeling from the catastrophic earthquake that crushed much of the country in 2010. With more than 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to the BBC, Haiti was hardest hit in the southeast, with many in towns and fishing villages killed by debris, falling trees and swollen rivers.
The Pope’s contribution to the relief effort is part of aid activated throughout the Catholic Church immediately following the storm. Numerous bishops’ conferences and charitable organizations have all stepped in to help Haiti, including Caritas Haiti, in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis, which has now launched a first appeal for emergency aid to 2,700 families for the purchase and distribution of food and hygiene kits, the communique says.
After the storm, Pope Francis assured his prayers and solidarity with all those affected: “Learning of the devastation wrought by hurricane Matthew, which has caused numerous victims and considerable damage, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his sadness and assures his prayer for all those who have lost a loved one,” an Oct. 7 telegram read. Signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and addressed to the president of the Haitian Bishops Conference, Cardinal Chibly Langlois, the letter expressed the Pope’s “deep sympathy in these painful circumstances.”
According to the BBC, some 1.4 million people are in need of assistance. The United Nations has pledged $120 million in emergency funds to support medical help, shelter, water and sanitation. The latest crisis is the fear of another cholera outbreak, such as the one that occurred after the devastating 2010 earthquake, which caused the deaths of 10,000 people, the BBC reported. The World Health Organization is sending a million doses of the cholera vaccine to Haiti, where more than 200 cases of the disease have already been reported since the hurricane hit.
In his initial telegram, the Pope entrusted the deceased to the mercy of God, asking that the Lord would “welcome them into his light.” He assured his closeness to the injured and those who have lost their homes, and encouraged solidarity. The Pope entrusted the Haitian people to the “maternal protection” of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and gave them his Apostolic Blessing.