In 1965, at the end of the SecondVatican Council, the bishops of the United States decided to establish a Collection for the Church in Latin America (CLA). This development followed the recognition of the U.S. bishops that the church in Latin America needed help and it was important to establish a relationship with the sister churches to the South.

Since the Collection began, over $185 million has been donated by U.S. Catholics. Due to the generosity of U.S. Catholics, the Collection has been able to award over $92.7 million since year 2000. The collection has been increasing through the years, with about $68.5 million contributed over the past 10 years.

Other facts include:

  • In 2013, 393 projects were approved for funding, totaling $5.54 million and in 2014, 439 projects were approved for $6.77 million.
  • In 2014, 142 dioceses participated in the collection.
  • Almost every country, with the exception of some very small Caribbean island nations, has received assistance throughout the years. In the last few years, Haiti has been among the top five recipients along with larger countries like Peru and Colombia. Cuba has also received significant amounts of funding.
  • The average number of countries currently receiving assistance is between 21 and 23.
  • The Collection for the Church in Latin America funds a wide range of pastoral activities and programs, from evangelization programs to pregnancy centers to leadership development of community leaders based on Catholic Social Teaching.
  • Rural ministries as well as outreach to indigenous communities have been particularly important in countries such as Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Brazil. Socio-religious research has been supported in countries like Costa Rica and Uruguay.
  • Support for ministries to migrants (including those coming to the United States or those going to countries such as Brazil) and refugees (such as Colombians going to Ecuador or Panama) has increased in the last 20 years.
  • The CLA Collection also assists in responding to the need to repair or replace the church's infrastructure after natural disasters. For example, in Haiti the Collection continues to help with reconstruction. In Chile, the Collection helped with over $750,000 after the 2010 earthquake, and it also assisted with some funds in Cuba after Hurricane Sandy.
  • Currently, about $22.6 million has been awarded for reconstruction projects in Haiti from the Special Collection for Haiti which the dioceses in the United States collected to benefit the people of Haiti.
  • About 50 projects are moving through the different stages of construction in Haiti and a few projects have already been completed. Among the largest reconstruction projects funded so far is the repairing of the Cathedral of Miragoane, the reconstruction of the Church of the Sacred Heart in Port-au-Prince and the construction of a multi-purpose hall in the City of Jacmel.
  • Every diocese in Cuba receives help from the Collection. The average yearly help to each diocese is about $25,000. Funding helps strengthen pastoral activities such as catechesis, family pastoral, youth ministry, prison and hospital ministries.
  • As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis would recommend funding for projects of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Yet, his most recommended and supported projects were those having to do with outreach to the poor people of "the villas," the slums. A project he always made sure would be particularly recommended was a project to strengthen Catholic radio's programming for the villas.
  • The Collection has enjoyed a special relationship with the Council of Latin American Episcopates (CELAM), and thus the USCCB had always been invited to be an observer to the Conferences of the Latin American Episcopate, such as in Puebla and Santo Domingo. During the Conference in Aparecida, 2007, USCCB was a participant represented by Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B, Bishop William Skylstad, Bishop Jaime Soto and Bishop Plácido Rodríguez, CMF. The editor of the final document of that conference was then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.
Additional facts about National Collections.