By Vatican News staff writer
Keeping up with the Church's growing communication needs is the objective for Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 May, when Catholics in the United States are invited to support the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Catholic Communications Campaign (CCC).
These days were chosen not by coincidence: May 16 is the 55th World Day of Social COmmunications, with the theme: "Come and see (Jn 1:46): Communicating by meeting people where and as they are."
Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, Chairmain of the USCCB's Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign, explained that the Campaign allows the Church to continue to promote Jesus' message of faith, hope, and healing through the mass media.
Half of the funds raised through the CCC are allocated to the donor diocese, in support of local evangelisation projects; the other half goes toward Catholic communication activities at the national level or for developing countries. In a statement, the USCCB writes that in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a “perfect storm”, with increasing demand for support from the Catholic Communication Campaign while at the same time most parishioners were unable to attend Mass due to COVID-related restrictions the weekend of the collection. "That situation resulted in a significant decline in giving to the CCC, which is trending down by more than half".
Adapting through Covid
However, Archbishop Hartmayer added that thanks in part to the technologies that allowed the streaming of celebrations, the faithful remained "spiritually connected even in times of physical distancing". In fact, the USCCB used Campaign funds to help dioceses and parishes live-stream masses, while the bishops' website was redesigned, making it mobile-friendly so that it was easier to access the Daily Readings and reflections on Scripture. The CCC has thus provided "crucial assistance to enable the faithful to remain united". Hence, the bishops' appeal to everyone's generosity, "especially in these difficult times".
The pandemic is not the only crisis to which the Campaign is responding: the bishops recall that the initiative has made it possible to organise online roundtables on racism, arms control and care for Creation, in order to engage the faithful on relevant moral and social issues.
Similarly, Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice, a Vatican organisation founded by Pope John Paul II to promote Catholic social teaching, will use a CCC grant to improve its social media outreach and produce animated videos on Catholic social principles. Additional funds will be used to produce documentaries on various saints, such as St. Frances Cabrini.
“Gifts to this collection", said Archbishop Hartmayer, "will bring the message of Jesus to your community and to communities on the other side of the world.” So, he concludes, "Please give generously, knowing that you are continuing the work of the apostles.”