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WASHINGTON— The U.S. Catholic bishops will vote to authorize the publication of a new document on administering national collections at the Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland, November 14-16. The proposed publication, entitled “One Church. One Mission—Guidelines for Administering USCCB National Collections in Dioceses” is addressed to bishops and to diocesan and parish personnel. The document highlights some best practices while addressing some concerns.
According to Bishop Kevin Farrell, chairman of the Committee on National Collections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “These guidelines are meant to provide guidance and explanation about the nature and meaning of the national collections and direction on how they should be best administered.”
The guidelines ground the collections in the notion of stewardship and “reflect current development practices that respect donor intent, transparency and accountability,” said Bishop Farrell. The committee also addresses in the document some outstanding questions regarding timely remittance of funds; retention of national collection funds in parishes and dioceses; the practice of combining collections; and how collections start, change or are ended.
“The national collections are tremendous opportunities for all the faithful to participate actively in the life and evangelizing mission of the Church,” say the bishops in the document. “We urge each diocese to use this document to review the process by which they conduct national collections. If necessary, we urge appropriate changes to structures or processes to better support this work of the Church’s apostolate.”
National collections respond either to a canon law requirement, a special request from the Holy See, or to a two-third majority vote of the diocesan and eparchial bishops and their equivalents in the United States who collectively have discerned and decided that all dioceses throughout the country support an important objective through special annual appeals and collections. However, as the document points out, “it falls to the local bishop to give expression to these missionary priorities by directing the faithful to respond.”
There are currently twelve annual national collections and one voluntary appeal. Collections requested by the Holy See are the Peter’s Pence Collection and the Holy Land Collection. The World Mission Sunday Collection is required by canon law for the entire Church to support the Church’s missionary work.
USCCB national collections include the Catholic Home Missions Appeal, the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Collection for the Church in Latin America, the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, the Retirement Fund for Religious Appeal, and the Catholic Relief Services Collection. Recently the bishops have decided to begin a voluntary initiative called the Pastoral Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, which could take the form of a collection or some other form of assistance. Other national collections are the National Black and Indian Mission Collection and The Catholic University of America Collection.
For more information on the USCCB-approved national collections go to http://www.usccb.org/about/national-collections/.
Keywords: national collections, guidelines, finances, accounting, dioceses, donor intent, Bishop Kevin Farrell, USCCB, Committee on National Collections, Committee on Budget and Finance
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