USCCB News Release
May 20, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Solidarity Fund for Church in Africa Posts New Promotional Materials
WASHINGTON—The Office of National Collections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted new materials online to help parishes and dioceses promote participation in the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. The new materials, including clip art, bulletin inserts and bulletin/pulpit announcements, can be found at http://www.usccb.org/churchinafrica/resources.shtml.
Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Africa in March and the upcoming Synod of Bishops for Africa in the fall have highlighted both the needs of the Church in Africa and its great promise. The synod’s working document calls for a united effort among Catholics to help end the injustices in Africa, to promote peace, and to find a better way for the faithful in Africa to have a more active role in promoting unity in the church and in society for the common good.
Parishioners in the United States can express their solidarity for the Church in Africa and support Pope Benedict’s call to action through the Pastoral Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, a fund established by the U.S. bishops in 2004.
Last year, U.S. dioceses contributed almost $2 million to this fund. An anonymous donor made a single contribution of $500,000. In 2008 the Pastoral Solidarity Fund was able to share with the Church in Africa $1.8 million in assistance. Pastoral programs funded through this initiative included Catholic schools, religious education, youth ministry, clergy and lay leadership training and Catholic communications.
Though the continent faces many challenges, the tremendous growth in the Church in Africa shows great promise. According to Vatican figures, the Catholic population nearly tripled from 1978 to 2004, from 55 million to 144 million parishioners.
In his address to the Special Council for Africa in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on March 19, 2009, Pope Benedict expressed this sentiment when he said, "…this continent (is) so rich both in promise and in pressing human, cultural and spiritual needs. This morning I called Africa ‘the continent of hope’… Africa will be able to find the strength needed to face its sometimes difficult daily existence, and thus it will be able to discover immense spaces of faith and hope which will help it to grow in God."
Unlike the national collections, this solidarity fund does not have a specific collection date assigned and is taken at will by dioceses around the country.
For more information about the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, please visit www.usccb.org/nationalcollections.