The work of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa is guided by the vision of Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa (1995) as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement A Call to Solidarity with Africa (2001).
The subcommittee works in partnership with the Church in Africa, with all of its gifts and challenges, to build the pastoral capacity of the Church in Africa through the Solidarity Fund and relationships of solidarity that enrich the Church in both Africa and the United States. This work is focused on areas of greatest need, builds upon and extends existing relationships, and encourages planning and accountability.
Building on their 2001 statement, A Call to Solidarity with Africa, the full body of U.S. bishops authorized the creation of a voluntary diocesan collection and an Ad Hoc Committee on the Church in Africa in November 2004. In 2008, it became a Subcommittee of the Committee on National Collections.
The Subcommittee is charged with creating and managing a"Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa." This fund serves as the repository of amounts raised through voluntary diocesan collections, gifts, and other means. The fund aims to strengthen the pastoral capacity of the Church in Africa, a Church that is spiritually rich but desperately poor. Working from the goals outlined in Ecclesia in Africa, the subcommittee is responsible for receiving, distributing, and accounting for these funds and designating them for pastoral projects of the Church in Africa. The subcommittee also hopes to provide a basis for assessment, planning, and decision-making for dioceses and parishes looking to coordinate their responses to Africa.
This initiative seeks to provide a serious, sustained response that will meet genuine needs, strengthen the capacity of the Church in Africa, and provide for effective and transparent accountability.
Why a fund for the Church in Africa?
The Church in Africa is the fastest growing part of the Universal Church and the poorest part of our family of faith. Spiritually rich but desperately poor, the Church in Africa needs more sustained, well-coordinated and effective help to meet current needs, address critical problems, and realize its enormous potential not only in Africa, but within the Universal Church.
Who is calling for this act of solidarity?
This ongoing effort carries forward the message of the U.S. Bishops' statement, A Call to Solidarity with Africa, overwhelmingly adopted by the body of bishops in 2001 and warmly received throughout Africa. It also reflects the key themes of Pope John Paul II's Ecclesia in Africa (1995), released after the First Synod of African Bishops in 1994. It seeks to respond constructively to the moving and eloquent appeals of the bishops in Africa, to the most urgent pastoral needs, the hopes of the Holy See, and the experience of the national office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and that of missionaries and Catholic Relief Services workers in Africa. It is also a response to the requests of U.S. bishops and others who have visited Africa and have witnessed the Church's growth and vitality as well as its poverty and desperation.
Who is responsible for the stewardship of the Solidarity Fund?
The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa began a joint project of the USCCB Committees on International Policy, Migration, and African American Catholics, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the United States. On January 1, 2008, it became part of the Committee on National Collections with the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa leading the effort. The fund provides a vehicle for bishops to provide sustained, effective, and accountable support to the Church in Africa. The Solidarity Fund will help respond to pastoral needs; it will not duplicate the humanitarian or development assistance provided by Catholic Relief Services.
How will proceeds from the Solidarity Fund be distributed?
Efforts to assist the Church in Africa will build on existing initiatives but will be more sustained, more focused on the greatest pastoral needs, and more coordinated and collaborative. Requests for support, approved by the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, will go to projects of the Church in Africa that reflect the priorities of Ecclesia in Africa, attend to the areas of greatest need, and provide the Church in Africa with opportunities to effectively plan and provide clear systems of accountability. Grants will be coordinated directly through National Bishops' Conferences in Africa.