WASHINGTON--Members of the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee ratified a recommendation to evenly distribute the proceeds of the special collection for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan between humanitarian relief and long-term church reconstruction and program needs. The decision was made during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee Meeting on March 11-12.
As of late March, 148 dioceses have donated $24.5 million to the special collection. Of this amount, $6.4 million has been specifically designated by dioceses for humanitarian-only use. These donations have been tracked and sent directly to Catholic Relief Services (CRS). CRS received an additional $2.9 million directly from several dioceses.
The proposed split will apply to the shared portion of the collection, currently at $18.1 million. Catholic Relief Services will administer the fifty percent of the collection that goes to humanitarian relief efforts, which include clean water, shelter kits, and income recovery. Incoming donations that are designated for humanitarian-only use will continue to be sent to CRS on a regular basis.
"Both humanitarian and Church needs are significant," said Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, chairman of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. "When the delegation visited the Philippines in early February, they were able to see the needs first-hand. I spoke with Archbishop Coakley, who was in the delegation, and we agreed to recommend an even split of the collection to the Administrative Committee."
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City is chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services. "One reason for our recommendation is the lack of an insurance system for Church property in the Philippines," said Archbishop Coakley. "Through conversations with other Church aid agencies, it has become clear that our aid is absolutely necessary. Very limited funding will be available for the Church, aside from our support through this collection."
The fifty percent of the collection allocated to the reconstruction of church buildings and property will be distributed directly to the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines by the Committee on National Collections. Documentation will provide parameters on the use of the funding with the goal that all impacted areas receive funds. "Based on the information from the delegation, we are confident that the local Conference has the structure and personnel in place to manage the funds," said Archbishop Schnurr.
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated cities across the Philippines, damaging or destroying 600,000 homes and affecting nearly 12 million people.
More information on the special collection for the Philippines can be found online: www.usccb.org/about/national-collections/index.cfm and at http://crs.org/typhoon-haiyan/ .