US Bishops' Development Campaign Set for November

2010 Theme: «Fight Poverty in America, Defend Human Dignity»

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 3, 2010 ( For the third year in a row, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported an increase in the number of people living in poverty. In 2008, 13.2% of the U.S. population, or 39.8 million people, lived in poverty. In 2009, that figure rose to 14.3%, or 43.6 million people living below the poverty level.

In efforts to combat the economic struggles the country is facing, the 2010 Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be launching its annual collection the weekend of Nov. 20-21. This year’s theme is «Fight Poverty in America, Defend Human Dignity.»

This collection, taken up in parishes across the country each year, is the primary source of funding for the CCHD’s anti-poverty grants and educational programs. For the last 40 years, the CCHD has used the money collected in the annual campaigns to fund such causes as low-income daycare centers, educational programs, affordable housing and legal counsel to ensure fair wages.

A subcommittee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the CCHD was started in 1969 as a way of reaffirming the Church’s social doctrine and to «carry out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.» It is one of the most widely supported USCCB programs.

In a press release, chairman of the CCHD, Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, emphasized the important work of the committee and its devotion to carrying out the Gospel message: «At this time of great economic suffering, it is more important than ever for the Church in the United States, through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ ‘to bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, new sight to the blind and to set the downtrodden free.'»

«Across the country, work is being done to fight poverty at its roots in places that offer inadequate education, tolerate unaffordable housing, and turn away from communities in need,» said the CCHD director, Ralph McCloud. «The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is justice and charity in action through the Church. CCHD funds community groups that work to change systems that keep them in poverty.»

One group funded by CCDH is Faith Action Strength Together in Pinellas County, Florida. It has worked locally to provide quality childcare for low-income working families, and have worked with their local county commission to create a $19 million trust used to build and refurbish over 1,000 affordable living spaces.

Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) started in Nebraska when a group of religious leaders met to discuss how to solve the growing problems within their community. The result was a multi-ethnic, Christian organization (over 50% Catholic) committed to promoting «a safe, healthy environment for children and their families.» By funding projects such as improving youth programs, and betting the relationship between the community and police, OTOC has been able to reduce violence, replace sewers and promote neighborhood revitalization.

According to the USCCB, the bishops recently completed a thorough review and renewal evaluation of the CCHD process. The review and renewal served three purposes: to reaffirm the Church’s priority for the poor, responds to concerns about funding policies, and commits to strengthen the CCHD role as a «faithful and effective expression of Catholic teaching and the Gospel.»

«The CCHD is a unique and essential part of the much broader Catholic commitment to overcome poverty,» said Bishop Morin. Quoting Benedict XVI’s encyclical «Caritas in Veritate,» he added, «CCHD pursues ‘the institutional path […] of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity that encounters the neighbor directly.'»

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