The tragedy of Haiti
The American ?evangelist? Pat Robertson has declared that the horrible and yet unfolding tragedy in Haiti is a consequence of the Haitians entering into a ?pact to the Devil?. This refers to a story that a Haitian leader, Jean Jacques Dessalines, entered into a pact with Satan disguised as a voodoo deity in 1791 in exchange for being able to overthrow French colonial rule. Robertson claimed the Haitians ?got together and swore a pact to the Devil?. Robertson compared Haiti with the Dominican Republic (the other half of the island of Hispaniola). He said: ?The Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts.... Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.?
Before we Orthodox laugh or (preferably) are sickened by such theological and moral stupidity, we have now to be confronted with similar (except for the alleged ?pact to the Devil?) comments from the Patriarch of Moscow. Patriarch Kirill said crime, drugs and corruption caused last week's massive earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people in Haiti. He claimed that the Haitian people bore responsibility for the calamity because they had turned away from God. He compared Haiti with the Dominican Republic, which is located on the same Caribbean island. He also compared Haiti with Kazakhstan, noting that Kazakhstan has not experienced any earthquakes recently despite its seismological position. [Moscow Times, 20 January 2010]
This reference to Kazakhstan is truly obscure since only a third of the population of Kazakhstan is Orthodox. Is that the magic number? If a third of Haitians were Orthodox would they have avoided this dreadful tragedy?
Patriarch Kirill?s pseudo-theology (if not heresy) will come as little comfort for the Haitian Orthodox ? yes, they do exist: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.orthodoxhaiti.org/">http://www.orthodoxhaiti.org/</a><!-- m -->
With God?s blessing, the Haitian Orthodox have a Bishop who offers comfort and prayer rather than bizarre punitive ramblings. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad , has issued this statement:
?It was with pain in my heart that I learned of the terrible catastrophe that has befallen the people of Haiti, and wish to express my profound empathy with the anguish felt by all the island?s occupants, and especially our brothers and sisters carrying on their service to God and man within the Orthodox Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. I pray for the repose of the souls of those who died during the earthquake, I pray for those who survived, that the Lord bless them with His consolation and heavenly aid. May the Lord bless the rescuers and all those who are going to that country with the aim of helping its occupants! Brothers and sisters, let us not forget that the poor and unfortunate are our joy, for they edify our character, and such tragedies give us the opportunity to be Christians not only in name, but in deed. Let us remember the words of the Gospel, how many images, parables and calls by the Lord in which He says that we must pray for each other, help and serve our neighbour. Much can be said about this, much can be understood, but the most important thing, my beloved, is to act and live in accordance with our faith. That is why I ask all of you, dear brother archpastors, reverend fathers, brothers and sisters, to help the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in its effort to provide necessary aid to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.?
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Fr Victor Potapov, Executive Director of the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, made this announcement regarding support for Haiti:
?As of today the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has collected over $50,000 and disbursed $16,000 of aid to the suffering people of Haiti through trusted clergymen on the ground there. This is an ongoing fundraising effort.
We are working towards opening a clinic on the grounds of one of our five parishes in Haiti. Please pray for Fr. Gregoire, Fr. Jean, their long-suffering parishioners and for the members of our delegation, who are doing a magnificent job in Haiti, negotiated with the United Nations, the Red Cross, IOCC and other organizations to get aid to our people.
Please support our fundraising effort.
I want to emphasize that every single penny donated to this project is spent on this project. None of the money earmarked for Haiti is being used for administrative costs or overhead. When the dust settles and we catch our breath, a full accounting of how our donors? money was spent will be published on the FFA's website.?
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Go to <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://fundforassistance.org/">http://fundforassistance.org/</a><!-- m --> and read accounts of the needs of the Church there and of the work being done and, if you are able to do so, use the website to make a contribution.
The people of Haiti, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, are our brothers and sisters in Christ, crying out in need as the result of a natural disaster entirely beyond their control and for which they are ? theological stupidity and heresy notwithstanding ? entirely not responsible. We must pray fervently for them, urge our governments to give the most generous of support and, as far as we are able, donate to their cause.