By Vatican News staff reporter
The Church in the United States traditionally dedicates the months of July and August to solidarity with Africa. This year, too, the nation’s bishops are inviting the faithful to contribute generously to the annual collection established for this purpose. The annual initiative, launched in 2004, is coordinated by the special Sub-Commission of the Bishops' Conference (USCCB) responsible for supporting pastoral projects for the development of the Church in Africa, especially those related to youth, Catholic schools, formation of clergy and laity and promotion of peace in areas of conflict.
Endemic poverty, ecological disasters, poor governance, endless conflict, and massive population displacement continue to plague much of the continent, which remains one of the most politically and economically marginalized areas of the world. “Yet, Africa is also a continent of enormous spiritual vitality, where the People of God – ordained and laity alike – share the Gospel with a joy that should inspire all of us to do likewise,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark and chair of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.
American Catholics’ donations, the Cardinal explained, help “provide the basic resources that the Church in Africa needs in its pastoral mission to deepen the faith of its people, evangelize its neighbours, strengthen its leadership and promote peace and justice.” Cardinal Tobin emphasized that “every dollar” given through church offerings or sent online “goes a long way to make a real difference in the faith lives of individuals, families, and communities across Africa.”
Due to lockdowns imposed last year against the Covid-19 pandemic, with many churches closed to the faithful for long periods, donations to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa have drastically decreased, just at the time when African countries needed it most. Nonetheless, the Sub-Commission has been able to fund important projects, including:
- Offering training in psychological counselling and human rights to catechists in war-torn Cameroon,
- Providing funding to the Bishops’ Conference in Burundi to expand protection and awareness programs to fight violence and sexual abuse of minors,
- Supporting a four-day national seminar for teachers in the Republic of Congo,
- And in Zambia, which is suffering from a severe lack of priests, financing Bible training seminars to help local lay leaders understand the Word of God.
“Gifts to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa support the Church’s mission to bring hope, foster understanding and healing among diverse peoples and help to spread the Good News of God’s love and mercy through Jesus Christ,” said Cardinal Tobin. “The generosity of U.S. Catholics makes a tangible, lasting impact in the lives of our Catholic brothers and sisters.”
Learn more about the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa and how donations make a difference at www.usccb.org/africa.