CHICAGO (CBS) — Cardinal Blase Cupich was visiting Puerto Rico on Monday, to see the damage from Hurricane Maria first-hand, and to deliver donations from a church in the northwest suburbs.
The cardinal was meeting with storm victims on behalf of Pope Francis, who asked Cupich to visit the island.
Diocesis de Mayaguez, on the west coast of Puerto Rico, hosted Cupich on Monday. Flanked by Puerto Rican church leaders, Cupich spoke about efforts to bring aid to the people hardest hit by Hurricane Maria, and how the church is often better equipped than the government to distribute that aid.
“It really is a huge disaster that is going to take a lot of work going forward, and I’m just pleased to be able to come, and honored that Holy Father asked me to convey to the bishops and the people here his personal concern,” Cupich said.
The cardinal said he has not yet spoken to the pope since arriving in Puerto Rico on Sunday.
“He just got from Bangladesh, so it’d be tough,” Cupich said.
Cupich also visited Las Hermanas Dominicas de Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Fátima in Mayaguez, and presented the nuns with a $40,000 check – donations raised by Saint Anne Parish in Barrington.
Just as important, he communicated to their parishioners a message from Pope Francis: they are not forgotten.
Cupich said he wants to make sure people in Puerto Rico can get clean running water, electricity, and communications.
According to the Puerto Rican government, 93 percent of the island now has running water, 83.5 percent has telecommunications service, and 68 percent has electricity in the wake of Maria, which slammed the island on Sept. 20.
The sisters at the diocese in Mayaguez said they were very touched that the pope would send an envoy to Puerto Rico.