Bishops of The Episcopal Church offer pastoral letters this week as Haiti marks one year since the devastating earthquake there:
Bishop Shannon Johnston of The Diocese of Virginia
From The Diocese of Virginia's website
Recovery in the Diocese of Haiti: A Pastoral Letter
One year ago, January 12, 2010, the world shook-both literally and figuratively-for the people of Haiti. In 35 seconds, nearly 300,000 lives were lost, millions were displaced and an already desperately inadequate infrastructure was largely destroyed. Since the poor always suffer the most in times of hardship, Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, is enduring a catastrophe that remains unimaginable even for those who have been there to see for themselves. The toll on human life has been devastating. In Port-au-Prince alone, a million people are still housed in tents, a great many street-side. Need, injury and illness are constant specters. Now, a cholera epidemic looms with a legacy of more death and fear.
What can we do in the face of such horrors? To be sure, the sheer scale of it all is more than daunting. I've often heard comment that whatever groups or individuals might do is so little that it seems almost useless. All too easily we can despair of being able to be of help. On the contrary, I would argue that the need is so great that we-all of us-simply must become involved in any way possible. To be unconnected to the tragedy in Haiti is not a faithful choice. Our faith in the grace and sovereignty of God through Jesus Christ leads us to take action, both for immediate relief and long-term recovery and rebuilding.
Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
From The Huffington Post
The Most Effective Help For Haiti -- The Church
by Pierre Whalon
Why bother with Haiti? There has been a lot of exasperation expressed that "nothing has changed in Haiti" since the earthquake a year ago. There is talk of God's punishment for "devil worship," of the bitter fruits of failed socialism, of the inability of former slaves to govern themselves effectively. Money given for Haiti is just "poured down a rat hole." In other words, let's blame the victims for their predicament and leave them in it. They brought it on themselves. What's it got to do with us?
When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, there was a tremendous response from Americans and people across the globe. Even in the world's richest country, it will still require a long time before that one storm's damage will be completely effaced.
Contrary to media reports, a lot has changed in Haiti. For one thing, the dire predictions in January 2010 of massacres, civil war, massive epidemics, etc., have not materialized because of the efforts of many people, beginning with the Haitians themselves. We should not expect the much greater devastation in Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, to be rebuilt any faster. At best, it will be many years before Haiti will be back on its feet.
And while the Haitians themselves have often been their own worst enemies, the truth is that France first and then the United States have used military force and trade sanctions against Haiti several times over the past two centuries to promote their own economic interests. Once the world's biggest sugar exporter and a major rice producer, Haiti now has to import these commodities, principally due to American policies. Those who point a finger at the corruption of various Haitian governments have several pointing back at their own nations' involvement in sustaining those evil régimes.