Archive for January, 2010


Friday, January 29th, 2010

There have been several comments raised to recent blog entries, two of which merit, I think, mention here. First, I was asked if the diocese and Catholic Charities would be of assistance to families seeking to adopt orphans from Haiti. The answer is affirmative when the Haitian and U.S. government come to some agreement on how to handle these requests. It is hard at the moment to discern the mind of the governments involved but assisting in placing orphans and adoptive children has long been Catholic Charities stock in trade. Stay tuned here for more information if a “breakthrough” materializes.

Someone has asked why I have not signed on to the  MANHATTAN DECLARATION. Philosophically and ecclesiologically I am deeply devoted to the structure, purpose and  collegial nature of our episcopal conference, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They speak for me when they pass something as a body or delegate our President to speak on our behalves. Prior to 1984 no bishop would have thought of signing onto documents originating elsewhere. While I accept the purpose and principles of the  MANHATTAN DECLARATION, I  personally prefer to allow the Conference to speak for me on matters of public policy. It is in my DNA so be you will need to be patient with me once again. I have no case against those bishops who do not feel similarly constrained and publicly acknowledge that it is a “thing with me.”

Hope these two responses are illuminative and helpful.



Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I do not have a final total of the generosity of the Catholic people to Haiti from the special week-end collections of the last few week-ends, but I am willing to bet it will be somewhere in the vicinity of one million dollars and rising. Keep your eye here for the latest totals. As you know I asked that all donations be sent to CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES through the diocesan Finance Office but parishes with twinning relationships with parishes in Haiti could and should be guided by the needs of those parishes. In either case, the amounts forwarded would be included in our total diocesan effort. We advanced $250,000 to CRS on the second day to get them started and they set aside an immediate five million for the beginning Haiti effort.

Now to the question raised in the title of this post. The media are infatuated in every disaster with the “big” names among the non-profits who have huge “PR” departments which spring into action with the first news of trouble and make the reporters’ jobs easier by feeding them with stories, pictures, etc. So one will always see the RED CROSS, SAVE THE CHILDREN, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM, SALVATION ARMY and the like saturating the coverage of the relief efforts, especially in their early going. These agencies serve a purpose and do a good job but they often spend a sizable amount of money in fund-raising, public-relations, and they throw a lot of money and material into what appear to the viewer to be the basic necessities. They serve a purpose, but sometimes are among the first to leave when the media moves on to cover something else somewhere else in the world. That was my expedience in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia after the tsunami and the deaths there.  There and in Haiti, seldom mentioned, but primary and effective care deliverers are organizations such as the US Navy, the Australian Army (in Indonesia) and neighboring nations. They deserve a lot of credit.

But within a week, smaller, very effective aid agencies begin to get their “sea legs” and start making a difference which will last a long time: CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES, MEDICINES SAN FRONTIERES or “Doctors Without Borders” (which is one of my favorites) and CHURCH WORLD SERVICES. Flashy, no. Effective, extremely-choosing geographical areas in which to concentrate they cooperate and do not compete. In Haiti, there is room for everyone and hopefully everyone will stay until the end and the job is completed. So don’t be lulled into thinking that only the big names get things done. Most of the long-term relief and redevelopment efforts will be best accomplished by those who spend the lease to blow their own horns and the most on the suffering.



Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Fourteen years ago this afternoon (at two ‘clock p.m.) I was ordained and installed as the fourth bishop of St. Petersburg. It was a wonderful moment that I recall every year in a special way on my anniversary date and I recall it at Mass with special prayers of love and thanksgiving for the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the diocese who have embraced me, occasionally and properly upbraided me, but who on the whole have strongly supported my ministry among you. It didn’t take you long to figure out that I was not an ideologue but a mediator looking for common ground; it did not take you long to learn that I preferred a Gospel of ‘HOPE” to a more punitive reading of the same; it did not take you long to realize that I preferred collaboration and consultation to an autocratic style. For most of you this has been just fine. For some I have been a keen disappointment but the genius of our Church governance is that one never has to wait long for another day, another leader, another theory of management and leadership. To those whom I have disappointed be patient, with me and with the Church you love. To those whom I have pleased, continue to pray for me, my health, my spirituality, my peace and serenity with who I am and why God has now left me here, To all of you, regardless, thanks for this fourteen year love affair. Unconditionally and irrefutably I can say fourteen years later, I love you just as much as I did on my ordination day – no, even more.



Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Please excuse my absence from this blog but I am having a challenge focusing my eyes after all the surgeries. This too will pass. What follows is a report to the Board of CRS about our work the last week in Haiti. It is for precisely this that I sought your generous assistance last week and this.



On the morning of January 20th, a 6.1 magnitude aftershock hit off the coast of Haiti, about 6.2 miles deep, about 35 miles west-southwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince (PaP).  The Caritas PaP team reported that it was not strongly felt, though further structural damage is a possibility, and further assessments closer to the epicenter are still needed.

Highlights from Situation Report #8.1

  • The Government has devised eight zones for the distribution of humanitarian assistance.  Each zone will receive direct support by a national minister to coordinate the relief effort.
  • A UN assessment team reported that Leogane and Gressier are the most severely damaged areas west of Port-au-Prince.  Road access west of PaP is generally good (two lanes paved in most parts).  Power remains off in all areas assessed, although the electricity distribution system appears mostly intact.  Numerous makeshift camps have been established near the main road west from Port-au-Prince.
  • A sufficient number of water treatment systems have been reported in metropolitan PaP.  However, the USAID/DART anticipates greater need for water treatment centers outside metropolitan PaP, a prediction that the humanitarian community is working to assess.
  • In addition to being the lead agency for the Petonville Club camp (golf course in PaP), CRS has been designated as lead agency for coordinating relief efforts in the town of Legoane, due west of PaP.  CRS will primarily be responsible for basic needs (food, water, non-food items, including nurse/doctor teams as available).
  • Staff continues to assess needs and coordinate with Church partners and other agencies to plan larger and more organized food distribution activities.  Yesterday, CRS loaded three 2-ton trucks of food to be distributed by the National Catechists’ Committee in areas of PaP.
  • The Haitian Ministry of Health has defined three levels of healthcare:  mobile health centers, fixed health centers (minor health problems) and hospitals with surgical capacities. CRS and the University of Maryland are continuing collaboration to respond to medical needs, prioritizing the mobilization of shock trauma staff.
  • CRS continues to work with the USCCB to develop and provide materials for US constituents eager to get involved and staying abreast of advocacy issues such as interest in adoption of Haitian children and temporary protective status for Haitians already in the US.
  • The search and rescue team working through the Caritas team recovered two women from the Cathedral.  Sadly, they also found the body of the Vicar General of PaP, Monsignor Charles Benoit.
  • The funeral of Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, the Archbishop of PaP, will take place on Saturday, January 23rd.  Archbishop Dolan, Ken Hackett, Annemarie Reilly and Msgr. David Malloy will join the senior CRS staff in country to attend the funeral and to bring medical supplies.


Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Yesterday, Wednesday, in a pure act of faith and trust in our generosity as a local Church, I sent $250,000 to Catholic Relief Services as a “quick-start” to their relief efforts. It will provide immediate food, water, medicine and clothes to those who managed to “survive” Tuesday’s 7.0 earthquake. I hope our diocese is ultimately good for 1.5-2 million. We did that well for the far away tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Look at the pictures from from Haiti and tell me they are not crying out for help.



Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Yesterday’s news of a devastating 7.0 earthquake with an epicenter within 15 miles of Port-au-Prince shook these sick bones as much as it must have shaken the survivors in that island nation. The Haitian population–almost all Catholic–by virtue of its enduring poverty (the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere) is so vulnerable to acts of nature which wash away crops, destroy roads and weak infrastructures, slide schools and churches down hillsides. NOW THIS!

I am asking every Catholic in the diocese of St. Petersburg to be as generous as possible even in our own desperate and difficult economic times by responding to special collections to be taken up in all our Churches and institutions this Sunday and next. If you forget this special appeal this weekend, you will have another chance to help. All monies will go immediately to Catholic Relief Services for food, medicine, clothing, housing and humanitarian assistance. The Cathedral in Port-au-Prince has fallen to the ground, taking with it the life of the Archbishop. Buildings will await a later moment – now we need to save lives.

Finally, I ask parishes which twin with Haitian parishes and help them directly kindly to let me know how much assistance has been given, so I can account for that as well.


Bishop Robert N. Lynch


Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

First, I wish all the readers of this blog and many others a most happy, healthy and holy 2010. Every new year is full of some promise and most of us hope that it will somehow be better than the year concluding. That is certainly our prayer for the world, our nation, city and Church.

This, I hope, will be the last of my updates on my personal health. I did come home from the hospital the day after Christmas and once again find myself in the recuperative phase of recovering from major surgery. The osotomies have been reversed and my colon has been reconnected and all that seems to the doctors and to me to be going quite well.  Since parts of my system have had a five plus month holiday, it will take some time for them to get back into action but I should be resuming my duties in a few weeks. This final (I hope and pray) operation has been more challenging than I thought it would be but I definitely feel that I am improving. In the past I have given you some idea of my own estimation of my condition and I would say that I am 60% of the way to normal energy and function with each day bringing improvement. So absent some horrible setback, I hope not to have to write about my health but to be present once again to the diocese and demonstrate my health. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes – I can see the finish line.

Finally, we lost to eternal life a good priest on December 30. Father Stephen Dambrauskas went home to the Lord after 61 years in the priesthood. The people of Our Lady of the Rosary in Land-o-Lakes  will remember him as their beloved pastor and people at Light of Christ in Clearwater will remember him as the kindly retired priest who would come to hear confessions and celebrate a week-end Mass. May Father Steve now rest in the peace promised by the Lord he served for so many years.