Argentinians Slow to Donate, Says Caritas Leader

Poorer Dioceses Are Most Generous, Bishop Notes

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BUENOS AIRES, JUNE 10, 2001 ( Argentinians need to open their wallets a little wider, the head of Caritas says.

On the eve of Caritas´ annual collection, its president, Bishop Jorge Casaretto of San Isidro, told the Clarin newspaper that Argentina´s «level of solidarity is far from adequate.»

Caritas, the aid organization with the best image in the country, collected $2.6 million last year, barely 7 cents per inhabitant.

It´s not a new phenomenon. A few years ago the German Catholic Church´s collection for Latin America amounted to $100 million, or $3.50 per Catholic. That was four times the per-capita amount collected from Argentine Catholics — and this despite the fact that the collection was for the poor of Latin America, not Germany.

Clarin argued that Germany is one of the world´s richest countries. But Bishop Casaretto noted that in Argentina, those who have more don´t necessarily donate more.

In fact, poorer dioceses tend to give more to the Church´s fund-raising endeavors, he said. In last year´s «More for Less» collection, Catholics in Buenos Aires gave an average 25 cents, compared with 21 cents in much-poorer Cafayate.

Bishop Casaretto expressed the hope that Caritas´ collection this year would increase, «despite the crisis» the country is undergoing.

Caritas, the Church´s official organization for assistance to the needy, helps more than 1 million poor every month with its charity and development work. It has 25,000 volunteers in Argentina.

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