AMERICA/PORTO RICO - "United we stand, divided we fall ": Archbishop of San Juan’s appeal for the rebirth of the Country devastated by hurricanes

Monday, 2 October 2017


San Juan (Agenzia Fides) - "Puerto Rico has been demolished but not completely destroyed", reports to Fides Mgr. Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM, Metropolitan Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico, President of the Episcopal Conference of Puerto Rico (CEP). The Archbishop, together with Mgr. Eusebio Ramos Morales, Bishop of Caguas, Apostolic Administrator of Fajardo-Humacao, Secretary of the CEP, signed the Pastoral Letter of the Puerto Rican Bishops' Conference on the occasion of the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria which in September devastated the Country along with the other Caribbean islands (see Fides 20/9/2017).
In the Pastoral Letter sent to Fides, Mgr. Nieves expresses all the pain "in seeing so much suffering in the human faces of our people", as well as expressing solidarity with the Mexican population hit by the earthquake. "The wound that unites us is a cause of unity and rebirth", the Archbishop continues. The text continues: "It is a wound that we share with all the peoples of the Caribbean and the United States affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Katia and Maria. We have begun to receive solidarity messages from so many brothers and sisters around the world. Through official channels, media, parishes and with the help of so many people, the data on the devastation and destruction of our Puerto Rican archipelago have begun to emerge, in particular the loss of lives, the great damage caused to our homes, churches, schools, crops, animals, and so on. These data gradually make us aware that our lives will no longer be as before. "Addressing the Puerto Rican population, the President of the Episcopal Conference urges not to give in to despair and chaos caused by the series of catastrophic events that are added to the economic crisis in which the Country finds itself: "United to Christ, our life can give many fruits, avoiding pessimism and encouraging hope",he says.
In his appeal for the rebirth and reconstruction of the Country, the Archbishop explains that "rebirth requires a commitment with our land: we are its administrators and not its plunderers. Our homes, schools, temples, streets and properties are seriously damaged, even the churches of our brothers and sisters in the ecumenical community, the synagogues of our Jewish brothers, as well as the mosques of the Muslims living in Puerto Rico. Let us not allow our courage to vanish, giving space to selfishness and violence. Only being united will give us force".
"We must rediscover the pearl of the seas, we must walk together helping each other to make the beauty of our Country, its mountains, rivers, seas and cities shine again. We want to invite everyone to a gesture of charity towards the most affected through a collection that will be held in our dioceses, as well as nationally through Cáritas Puerto Rico", concludes Mgr. Nieves.
The smallest island of the Great Antilles is in full emergency. The 3.4 million inhabitants are struggling with continuous blackouts and there is no fuel to run the power generators. Damage to housing and infrastructure is huge. There are huge problems due to the shortage of electricity in hospitals. Many pharmacies are closed for structural damage reported, lack of medicines and essential necessities. (GN/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 2/10/2017)