USA: Church reaches out to those harmed by oil spill

The Catholic Church in America is reaching out to those affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of New Mexico with prayer and practical support.

Today at a meeting in St Petersburg, Florida, the bishops said in a statement:" We, the Catholic Bishops of the United States, gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida, for several days of prayer and reflection, take this opportunity to express publicly our heartfelt prayers and pastoral solidarity with all those affected by the oil that continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico.  We pray first and foremost for those who died in the initial explosion and for the grieving members of their families.  We express our prayerful support as well for the families and individuals whose lives and livelihoods have been so negatively impacted by the oil that daily contaminates water, beaches and God’s creation in the Gulf Coast area.  In a special way, in our difficult economic times, we are mindful of those who have lost their jobs and income.

"Finally, we offer our prayers for our government leaders and for the industry leaders and experts who are working to cap the leak and repair this damage.  May God give them wisdom and strength in this trying hour, and may He move them to seek lasting solutions benefitting the common good of our society."

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has approved preliminary grants of up to $300,000 to assist  those on low-incomes, vulnerable communities  and dioceses affected by the disaster.

“This tragic oil spill has grave human, environmental and economic costs,” said Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, Chairman of the subcommittee. “As a Church, we mourn the loss of life. We pray for those whose livelihoods are in jeopardy. Through these grants, the Church also offers concrete support to the work that must be done to help these communities help themselves. It’s a powerful sign of the essential mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”

The groups who receive the grants will use the funds to provide a voice for the fishermen and communities affected by the spill, coordinate with communities and emergency responders to document the damage, as well as insist on work to restore the damaged wetlands.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans said: “The people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans are grateful for the generosity of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. By providing our fishing communities with funds to support their efforts to recover, the CCHD has enabled the Catholic Church to continue to be a sign of Christ's compassion and hope to the fishing communities.  This gift is indeed generous and will be used to provide hope and stability for these hard-working families affected by the disastrous oil spill.”

These grants reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church, which calls for responsible stewardship of the environment and protection of the poor and vulnerable, who are often most affected by environmental harm.

The Apostleship Of The Sea in America has set up a network to help with the human and environmental harm caused by the disaster.
In a video at, Bishop J Kevin Boland of Savannah, Georgia, bishop promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea, urged Catholics to assist the work already being done by the Church to address this disaster. He said the Apostleship of the Sea is setting up a network of diocesan relief efforts along the Gulf Coast and cited the work of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese and New Orleans ( as one avenue for getting involved.
Bishop Boland also offered prayers for the victims of the oil rig explosion and their families and for the fishermen and others whose livelihoods are threatened by the environmental damage to the Gulf. He also urged Catholic to pray for the success of efforts to stop the spill and clean up the Gulf.
“It is God’s creation,” Bishop Boland said of the environment. “He has given it to us to take care of it. We must do all that we can, both as individuals and as a Church and as a community to restore to its proper dimensions and its proper beauty what God has given to us.”
Source: USCCB

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