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9448: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton on Haiti

From: Stuart M Leiderman <leidermn@cisunix.unh.edu>

[Excerpted from a longer piece]

    National Catholic Reporter
      115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111

    The Peace Pulpit
                                   Homilies by Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton

   By special arrangement, The National Catholic Reporter Publishing
   Company is able to make available Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton's weekly
   Sunday homilies given at Saint Leo Church, Detroit, MI.  <snip>

                                                        October 21, 2001

   Exodus 17:8-13   Amalek came and fought with Israel. <snip>

   2 Timothy 3:14-4:2   Remain faithful in the things which you have
   learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned
   them.  <snip>

   Luke 18:1-8  And he spoke a parable to them that they ought always to
   pray, and not to become weary; <snip>

   * A longtime national and international activist in the peace
   movement, Bishop Gumbleton is a founding member of Pax Christi USA and
   an outspoken critic of the sanctions against Iraq.  He has appeared on
   numerous radio and television programs, and has published numerous
   articles and reports.

   "<snip> And there are lots and lots of ways in which we could begin
   to situate ourselves within that parable as the judge, thinking about
   people who are vulnerable, who are coming to us, and whether we would
   act for them with Gods justice.

   "The first situation that comes to mind today is the country of
   Haiti.  It so fills up my whole heart.  I've just come back from Haiti,
   as you know, together with three other people from our community.  We
   spent Monday to Friday in Haiti.  And there we saw again, as you know
   from those of you who have gone before who were in a delegation or
   from what you have heard about Haiti, the worst poverty you can ever
   imagine.  This is the poorest country in our hemisphere.  Here you
   have people truly symbolized by that widow, people without rights.
   They have rights as human beings, but these rights are not
   recognized.  They are people who are totally vulnerable, people who
   are desperately and absolutely poor.

   "They need Gods justice. They need people who have enough
   confidence in Gods way of justice and will reach out to these poor
   vulnerable people and try to find a way by which they can be lifted
   up.  That their lives can be transformed and changed and that they can
   enjoy the blessings of this world that God has given for all and not
   for a few.

   "What is happening to the poor of Haiti seems almost unbelievable.  In
   fact, I would not doubt that some would be skeptical that this would
   really be the case.

   "This poorest country in our hemisphere, back in 1994, was
   promised when President Aristide returned from his exile after the
   coup that had taken place there in 1991, that it would receive 500
   million dollars of international assistance so that the people could
   rebuild their country.  That people could start up an economy that
   would provide jobs.  That people could live with dignity and could
   begin to move, as President Aristide says about the people of Haiti,
   from absolute misery to poverty with dignity.  That they could at
   least have that.

   "But you know what?  They have never received a penny of the 500
   million dollars.  Not one penny -- because the United States, which
   controls the decisions of the international development fund where the
   money would come from, has continued to insist that Haiti is not ready
   to receive the money saying they would not use it effectively.

   "Even this past spring, when President Aristide met with a group
   of 32 countries in the Caribbean and the head of the international
   development fund, he was told that Haiti has met every requirement for
   getting the money.   And yet the United States still says no.

   "What makes this even more unjust is that he was forced to pay $5
   million in interest on a loan that they have not received.  In meeting
   with him, he said with great sadness, I really had to struggle with
   whether I should handover the $5 million or not, because we could use
   that money for so many other things.  But the head of the
   international development fund said they must pay the interest or they
   will never get the money.  So they turned over $5 million in interest
   for a loan that hasnt even been given to them.  Now that is an
   injustice that cries out to God for some kind of settlement.

   "The people of Haiti are the poor, the vulnerable, the weak.  We
   are the judge.  What are we going to do to try to make justice come?
   That the poor are lifted up, that they receive in this case what is
   really due them, that Gods reaching out to help the poor is realized
   through us.  We have to find the way.

   "One of the things we came back with, the four of us in the
   delegation, was a conviction that we have to begin to work to get our
   government to change its policies.  All of us have to participate in
   this kind of activity so that our government does not press down
   against the poor and crush them but rather lift them up and bring real
   justice to these people.

   "So that's one very clear example of how we must change ourselves
   as the judge in the parable and work for justice truly and especially
   for the poor.