US Catholics Aid Post-Communist Lands

’08 Collection Theme Taken From “Deus Caritas Est”

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 28, 2008 ( Catholics in the United States have a chance to participate in the reconstruction of the Church in countries formerly under Communist rule.

The Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be taken up in most U.S. parishes on Feb. 6, Ash Wednesday, or the First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 10.

“Love Is the Only Light,” a theme taken from Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, is the theme for the 2008 collection. The collection was established shortly after the fall of Communism and has provided more than $100 million to Catholics in post-Communist Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. These funds have supported more than 3,500 Church projects in more than 25 countries.

Through the collection, U.S. Catholics help to build parishes in many distant places, such as Magadan, Russia, a part of the world where prisoners of the Stalinist labor camps once had to fashion rosaries from bits of their bread rations, a statement from the U.S. bishops explained.

Donations also support seminaries, social service programs, youth ministry, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and the spreading of the Gospel message through the mass media.

“As a result of this severe [Communist] repression, the bishops of the region today face the formidable tasks of restoring church structures and, more importantly, of rebuilding the spiritual centers of their communities,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “Now more than ever, the ecclesial needs of Catholics in Central and Eastern Europe must be tenderly cared for.”