CHICAGO (CNS) — Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, who heads the Archdiocese of Chicago, will make a pastoral visit to Puerto Rico Dec. 3-6 on behalf of Pope Francis.
The cardinal also is chancellor of Catholic Extension, which was established as a papal society when it was founded in 1905. The Chicago-based national fundraising organization is charged with strengthening the Catholic faith and providing resources to poor communities in the U.S.
A Nov. 27 announcement from the Archdiocese of Chicago said Cardinal Cupich will “make a fraternal visit to Puerto Rico in the days before Christmas, as a means of drawing close to the people and their pastors as they undergo the crushing trials following the recent devastating hurricanes, Irma and Maria.”
“Pope Francis has asked Cardinal Cupich to express his deep concern, as a father would have for his sons and daughters suffering in his family, and to let the people and pastors know that their situation weighs heavily on him,” it said.
Catholic Extension, which helps build churches and supports church ministries and other efforts in U.S. home missions, has had a decades-long relationship with Puerto Rico. It first assisted the Archdiocese of San Juan with a church-building project in 1908.
Cardinal Cupich’s trip, the archdiocese said, will be coordinated with the Puerto Rican bishops’ conference and the apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader.
A week after Hurricane Maria hit the island Sept. 20, Catholic Extension was able to send $325,000 in relief funds for the six dioceses of Puerto Rico, with another $25,000 going to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
More than two months later, millions of people in Puerto Rico still have no power and lack access to clean drinking water, refrigeration and other necessities.