WASHINGTON (April 14, 1998) -- The Bishops' Committee on the Church in Latin America has approved funding for 120 projects across that region, completing the first half of their semi-annual grants process for 1998. A second round of grants will be approved in November.
Approved projects include funding for:
- a tractor for plowing and pipe and cement for irrigation systems in Castries, Santa Lucia;
- hundreds of books for a library in the poor, remote town of Azoques, Ecuador;
- training for young people called to mission and evangelize among migrants in Buenos Aires, Argentina;
- printing catechisms in Tegucigalpa, Honduras;
- and aiding in the formation of Dominican Sisters in Puebla, Mexico.
The funds to make the grants to Latin America come from an annual collection taken up in many parishes throughout the country. Last year 144 of the 193 dioceses in the United States contributed $4,382,730 to this collection. In addition, 39 dioceses reported to the Secretariat for the Church in Latin America at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops that they sent $3,407,000 directly to the Church in Latin America.
"In the spirit of the Synod for America, which Pope John Paul II convened last year, it is anticipated that a new solidarity will emerge within the Church in the American hemisphere," said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino (CA), Chairman of the Committee on the Church in Latin America. "The financial elements are only one aspect of this solidarity. People -- missionaries, priests, religious, laity, college and high school students, as well as professionals from the north and the south -- are moving across borders to be part of this vital Church. As the North celebrates a greater diversity of Hispanic peoples, the day when priests and religious from the South will join the U.S. Church in ministry is anticipated."
Approximately 87 percent of the population of Latin America is Catholic. It is estimated that by the year 2000, one-half of the world's one billion Catholics will live in Latin America. By comparison, there are approximately 60 million Catholics in the United States.