Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Catholics and Haiti

Unfortunately the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and OSF-SFMC withdrew their support for Haitian Hearts children that need heart surgery. This happened several years ago and is well documented on this web log. The bottom line is that the Diocese was and is afraid to challenge the largest Catholic medical center south of Chicago.

Morality has taken a back seat to money. Haitians that need repeat heart surgery at OSF-SFMC are now dying.

On March 9, 2008 the Catholic Post, which is the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, ran a full page advertisement for Cross International Catholic Outreach. Below are some excerpts from the ad. I would think that the Post and the Diocese of Peoria would feel a bit hypocritical running this ad since the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and OSF-SFMC are not following what Cross International is stating must be done by Catholics for Haiti.

The second part of the advertisement is entitled “U.S. Catholics “Key” to Positive Changes in Haiti”.

Monsignor Mike Flanagan of Cross International has worked in Haiti’s Central Plateau. He urges U.S. Catholics to help the destitute villages of Haiti.

“In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gave us a preview of the final judgment, and the power of those words burned in my soul as I walked through the village,” Msgr. Flanagan said. When Jesus related the last judgment of mankind, He made the shocking revelation—that help given to the poor would equate to help given to Him, and that those who ignored the poor would be judged as if they had ignored Christ Himself. The connection to Haiti is both obvious and challenging. That destitute village is a place where Christ abides today. He is there among the poor, calling for our help.”

Flanagan also encourages Catholics to see the Judgment story in Matthew as a blessing rather than as a source of anxiety or fear. “We shouldn’t see our actions in Haiti as simply feeding a child or building a home for a poor family. We should see our outreach as a loving response to Jesus himself,” according to Msgr. Flanagan.

Saint Boniface Haiti Foundation is another wonderful organization that has many projects in Haiti. Saint Boniface Hospital is the center of their work in Fond des Blancs, a small village south of Port-au-Prince.

Many volunteers come to offer their services in Fond des Blancs and the following was written by volunteer Genevieve Lysen:

Reflections from Haiti--

Each day here in Haiti my eyes have opened wider to the reality of inequity and injustice in our world. Today we came upon a little settlement where I saw the most abject poverty I could ever have ever imagined….an 8 by 10 foot concrete structure with one twin bed, a leaky tin roof, and no sign of any food, bedding, clothing, etc. save for what the 8 people who lived inside were wearing; a sick mother who couldn’t have weighed more than 80 pounds and could not stand, 2 sets of wailing naked twins, a three or four year old taking care of the sets of twins, and one 10 year old boy and a seventeen year old boy who was the breadwinner for his family. He was born when his mother was 13 years old. She is only 30 now but looks 50. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I had some Clif bars and I divided them among the family. I cried on the walk down from the mountain. Their house was the highest point in Fond des Blancs. The view was amazing, so much beauty surrounding such destitution. My experiences in Haiti will change my life and my career path. The people of Fond des Blancs, their patience, their hope, and their honesty give me back the faith that I had lost in humanity. At the same time, the state of this country is testament to the greed, corruption, abuse, discrimination and ignorance of man. Haiti is a country in economic and social ruin where the people are the most dedicated, bright and hardworking as anywhere.


Robert Lorsbach said...

Thanks for this wonderful entry. I am a physician and have worked in a village outside Hinche for 4 years now and have likewise witnessed the extremes of Haitian life...the crushing weight of poverty admixed with the beauty of the Haitian people.

Your comment about the failure or disinclination of the Catholic heirarchy to support Haitian Hearts program, i believe, reflects a wider problem in the Catholic church, namely our failure as the laity to strive to meet the demands of the Gospel so beautifully articulated in Matthew 25. When we,the Catholic laity, put Matthew 25 ahead of our desire for flat screen TVs, new cars, more clothing than we can ever wear, and all the other insatiable "needs" we claim to have, then the "leaders" of our Church will do likewise. True leadership of the Church, like any human organization, has rarely come from the top, as Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Oscar Romero, Dorothy Stang, and Rick Frechette ably demonstrate. As in government, we get precisely what we demand...mediocrity.

John A. Carroll, M.D. said...

Dear Dr. Lorsbach,

Thank you for your comment, insight, and most of all for your work in Haiti.