The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed their sorrow at the news of a massive earthquake once again striking Haiti, as the United States announced a new relief effort to assist the country.

“On behalf of the bishops of the United States, I wish to express my heartfelt prayers for the people of Haiti who are mourning the loss of loved ones and are suffering from the destruction caused by the earthquake that took place this morning,” said a statement released Saturday, August 14, from Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB.

Earlier in the day, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake was reported in Haiti. At least 227 people have been reported to have died, with hundreds of others either injured or missing. The reported death toll has been steadily rising as the day continued.

Gomez added that the bishops are offering prayers to Archbishop Launay Saturné, the president of the bishops’ conference in Haiti, as well as “to all those who tirelessly serve the faith communities in Haiti.”

“We stand in solidarity with the Church in Haiti in offering our prayers, in a particular way this weekend as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,” said Gomez.

“In these moments of continued trial, may you feel the comfort, compassion, and embrace of our Blessed Mother,” said Gomez. “Our Lady of Perpetual Help, patroness of Haiti, intercede for us!”

In January 2010, the USCCB, along with Catholic Relief Services, the Conference’s relief and development agency, immediately went into action to assist the people of Haiti following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12 that killed nearly a quarter of a million people. The USCCB had a special collection at Mass the weekend following the earthquake to benefit the relief effort in Haiti, and has continued to play a role in the country’s recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Catholics, or anyone of good will, who wishes to assist with Haitian relief efforts following the latest earthquake, should contact Catholic Relief Services, said Gomez.

“I am grateful to all who can support the relief effort for our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” he said.

Shortly after the USCCB released a statement on Haiti, President Joe Biden (D) released one as well, announcing that the United States would be helping with the relief efforts.

??”In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning. We send our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed,” said Biden.

“I have authorized an immediate US response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior US official to coordinate this effort,” he added.

“Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild. The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti, and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy,” said the president.