WASHINGTON--The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 46 grants totaling $1,260,571 to assist the pastoral work of the Church in Africa. The subcommittee approved the grants during their June 10 meeting in New Orleans.
"The needs of the Church in Africa now vary, depending on the area," said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. "The Church in Africa is growing rapidly but also facing serious challenges as it responds to the needs of its members and the surrounding society. As a result, we see more requests for training programs and the development of management and leadership skills. In many areas, the Church in Africa is working to become self-sustaining. The relationships we are developing are essential in understanding how we can be of assistance. The support and collaboration the Church in the United States is offering is an important part of this process."
The main funded areas continued to be pastoral training, leadership formation, operational costs, and justice and peace initiatives. A grant for $30,000 to the Southern African Bishops' Conference will fund pastoral care and legal aid for women in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland who have suffered domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Training workshops will equip lay ministers to provide spiritual counseling. The program also intends to develop liaisons with Catholic lawyers in order to improve the quality of advice offered to women seeking legal assistance.
The subcommittee also approved a $25,000 grant to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ethiopia. The grant will help implement the dissemination of the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Ethiopia has a Catholic population of less than one percent and many people still wait to hear the gospel message. Since the major language in Ethiopia is Amharic, the national language, the project will work on translating the document into Amharic. Workshop leaders will be trained at the national level and will then work in their parishes and communities to spread the Pope's message.
"The support of Catholics in the U.S. for the Church in Africa has a huge impact," said Cardinal McCarrick. "This collection is an opportunity for us to join in mission to those on the outskirts, following the call of Pope Francis. We receive many expressions of gratitude from the people these programs serve."
The grants are funded by the annual collection for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. To date, 75 percent of U.S. dioceses and eparchies have voluntarily participated in this collection. The USCCB's Subcommittee on the Church in Africa administers the collection and allocates the revenue received as pastoral grants to African episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa.
More information on the work of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa can be found online.