Determining how best to begin lifting Haitians out of the extreme poverty has vexed the world for years.
This weekend, representatives of some of the largest Catholic agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere will meet with Haitian church officials to better understand the challenges the Caribbean nation faces and begin to set a path for concrete action.
Father Juan Molina director of the Church in Latin America program at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS the “One Table, Many Partners” conference hosted by The Catholic University of America June 1-3 will bring together more than 350 people from the U.S., Haiti, Canada and France.
Billed as a conference on solidarity, the gathering will focus on discussing partnership efforts and the intense cooperation needed to improve access to clean water, health care, education and adequate housing — and more — as needed steps to overturn the two-century-long cycle of poverty in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.
Even though Haiti has fallen out of the daily headlines, the country has received increased attention from church agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere especially given the slow progress of recovery since the January 2010 earthquake claimed an estimated 300,000 lives. Hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless, living in squalid tent camps with little privacy, limited access to water and food and under threat of illness and disease.
Conference presenters include Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, Haiti, president of the Haitian bishops’ conference; Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, who has an active ministry serving Haitians in Florida; Jesuit Father Allen Deck, who is on the faculty of Loyola Marymount University; and Carolyn Woo, CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services.
CNS will have a full report on the conference Monday.