WASHINGTON—The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited his brother bishops to take up an emergency collection the weekend of September 23-24 on behalf of those devastated in parts of the Caribbean and southeastern United States by Hurricane Irma. In the letter sent to bishops today, Cardinal DiNardo says the emergency collection is greatly needed to help victims of Hurricane Irma rebuild their lives and also help support reconstruction needs of churches destroyed or severely damaged in the U.S. and Caribbean.
Cardinal DiNardo's letter to the bishops follows:
"In the past few days Hurricane Irma devastated significant parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. While emergency outreach was immediate, we know that the road to recovery and the rebuilding of communities will be long and additional support will be needed.
"I write to you today and ask that you take up an emergency collection for those impacted by Hurricane Irma. These funds will be used in the affected areas to support humanitarian aid, assistance with long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction, and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in US and the Caribbean.
"I am aware that this call comes on the heels of the emergency collection for Hurricane Harvey. That storm, which hit Texas and Louisiana and held on for days before moving inland, caused catastrophic damage and compelled us to respond. Likewise, Hurricane Irma has been devastating and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, especially the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and the southern US need our help.
"The Church is a channel for grace and solidarity in the wake of natural disasters as it offers solace and support in their aftermath. However, as is so often the case, the Church itself in these regions is both a long-standing provider of aid and now is in need of tremendous assistance itself. So many of the Church's structures have been damaged and their resources depleted which makes it even more challenging to provide assistance and pastoral outreach to those in need."