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CURRENT ISSUE:  June 7, 2010
VOL. 48, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
St. Bernard School to remain closed for at least a year
Pope deplores Israeli assault on flotilla
BP gives $1 million for oil spill relief
to New Orleans Archdiocese

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — As millions of gallons of oil from an offshore rig explosion fouled hundreds of square miles in the Gulf of Mexico and advanced toward the Louisiana coastline, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond thanked BP for $1 million in emergency relief funds.

Workers contracted by British Petroleum scrape oil from a beach May 23 in Port Fourchon, La., after it was inundated by the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig. For more than a month, roughly 210,000 gallons of oil per day have been gushing from BP’s broken Deepwater Horizon wellhead situated in the Gulf of Mexico in what is considered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
CNS photo/Lee Celano, Reuters
The grant will allow local church relief agencies to provide emergency food, financial and counseling assistance to needy fishing families.

BP, which operated the oil platform that exploded April 20 and killed 11 workers, earmarked $750,000 to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans for direct assistance such as gift cards to local grocery stores, case management and counseling, and $250,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana for emergency food boxes.

In late May in the neighboring Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Bishop Sam G. Jacobs announced the establishment of a relief fund to provide emergency assistance to those affected by the crisis. “We are in this together, and God is with us. This is the time for action and each of us has a part to play,” the bishop said.

BP officials had hoped to contain the massive spill with a “top kill” procedure on the leaking pipe one mile underwater, but they said May 29 the effort had failed.

On June 1 the company began efforts to cut off the broken pipe, which they plan to cap and siphon off oil to containment ships. Even if that method is successful, officials estimate that oil will continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico for at least two more months.

In response to one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, Catholic Charities in New Orleans has opened five emergency centers at local churches to distribute the financial aid and offer counseling to fishing families.

The $1 million grant from BP will help fund outreach services for three months, and the program is likely to be extended if the impact of the oil spill grows, as almost everyone expects.

St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said the uncertainty of the eventual impact on fishing families was the toughest thing for them to handle.

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