USCCB News Release
May 28, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Peter's Pence Collection, an Invitation to Cast the Light of Christ upon the World
WASHINGTON—Dioceses around the United States will conduct the Peter’s Pence Collection, the collection that helps the Holy Father with his charitable works around the world, on June 27-28.
The Peter’s Pence Collection allows the pope to respond quickly to those who face oppression, natural disasters, war and disease. U.S. Catholics traditionally have been among the most generous donors to this collection.
Last year, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Pope Benedict XVI called on U.S. Catholics to continue this tradition of solidarity.
“In the finest traditions of the Church in this country, may you also be the first friend of the poor, the homeless, the stranger, the sick and all who suffer. Act as beacons of hope, casting the light of Christ upon the world,” said the pope.
Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Oregon, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on National Collections, encouraged people to continue to donate generously to the collection.
“Pope Benedict XVI has explained how those who are baptized create one family of believers who are never alone. The Peter’s Pence Collection unites us in solidarity to the Holy See and its works of charity to those in need. Your generosity allows the pope to respond to our suffering brothers and sisters with promptness, love, and compassion, so God’s people will not feel alone in their time of misfortune.”
The total of funds collected in 2008 for the Peter’s Pence Collection are expected to be announced by the Vatican in July. A Vatican official estimated that U.S. offerings in 2008 amounted to almost half of the total collection.
The 2007 worldwide collection totaled more than $79.8 million. Catholics in the United States were the top donors, contributing more than $18.7 million or about 28 percent of the total. They were followed by Italian Catholics who gave more than $8.6 million and German Catholics who gave more than $4 million.
Examples of initiatives undertaken with assistance of the Peter’s Pence include emergency relief aid offered through the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” in the wake of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods; the “Nazareth Boys Town” in Mbare, Rwanda that takes in abandoned orphans, mainly victims of genocide and civil war; and activities of the Populorum Progressio Foundation for peasants and indigenous people in Latin America and of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, which sponsors development projects in African Sub-Saharan areas in danger of desertification.
The Peter’s Pence Collection derives its name from an ancient custom. In ninth-century England, King Alfred the Great collected money—“pence” or pennies—from land owners as financial support for the pope. Today, the Peter’s Pence Collection supports the pope’s charitable work.
Information on the Peter’s Pence Collection can be found at http://www.usccb.org/ppc/.