Catholics and Muslims united to help Buddhists on Wednesday, as South Florida religious leaders announced a joint collection to benefit cyclone victims in Myanmar.

The collection is set to start this weekend at 18 mosques in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, plus the 120 parishes and missions in the Archdiocese of Miami.

Their goal is raising funds for Myanmar, a mainly Buddhist nation hit May 3 by Cyclone Nargis. The United Nations expects the death toll to reach 100,000, and nearly 2 million people need emergency aid.

“This is not a Muslim or Catholic or Buddhist disaster; it’s a human disaster,” said Khalid M. Mirza, president of the Miami Gardens Mosque, site of a news conference announcing the campaign Wednesday. “Humans helping humans is a teaching of all religions.”

The plan calls for the donations to be sent to the archdiocesan Catholic Charities, which will forward them to Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic relief agency.

The Rev. Roger Holoubek, representing Archbishop John Favalora at the news conference, agreed with Mirza on the need for the faiths to cooperate on disaster relief.

“In Christianity, we are told to remove our shoes on holy ground, and I feel this is holy ground,” said Holoubek, pastor of St. Maurice Catholic Church in Dania Beach. “It’s holy ground when we work with Muslim sisters and brothers in helping victims of catastrophe.”


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