Ahead of the May 15-16 National Collection for the Catholic Communications Campaign (CCC), the US Bishops are calling on the faithful to “give generously” to support the Church’s media outreach.
The annual collection aims at helping the Church “spread the Gospel message through the media locally and nationally,” with half of the funds remaining in the donors’ own dioceses and half supporting national and international communications efforts.
In a statement released Wednesday, the USCCB laments a serious shortfall in fundraising efforts for the CCC, due largely to a “perfect storm” of increasing demands and plunging donations. Last year’s national collection, set to coincide with the Church’s World Day of Social Communications, took place during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when churches were closed due to lockdowns throughout the country. The USCCB reports donations to the campaign are “trending down by more than half” in 2021.
Communications have played a major role throughout the pandemic, with the USCCB providing monies from the Campaign to fund ministry in places “with little communication structure.”
“We have seen the importance of staying spiritually connected in a time of physical distancing,” said Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, the chairman of the USCCB subcommittee spearheading the Campaign. “From local parishes streaming their Masses online for parishioners, to dioceses hosting special opportunities of prayer with their bishops in the midst of fear and uncertainty, the Catholic Communication Campaign provided crucial assistance throughout the COVID pandemic to keep our faith family connected.”
In 2019 – the last year for which figures are available – the CCC collection took in more than 900 thousand dollars, while disbursing approximately $991 thousand for various projects. At the end of the fiscal year, the USCCB reported the Campaign held almost $10 million in assets.
Besides funding outreach efforts directly related to the coronavirus crisis, the USCCB used funds from the Campaign to redesign and relaunch its website, making it more “mobile-friendly.”
The campaign also offered grants for documentaries on Saints Elizabeth Ann Seton and Frances Xavier Cabrini, and on the Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, and for an upcoming film sponsored by the Diocese of Savannah on five Franciscan missionaries who died as martyrs in what is now the US state of Georgia.
It also provided funding for virtual meetings on significant modern issues including racism, gun control, and “care for creation,” in order “to engage the faithful on moral and social issues,” as well as support for anti-death penalty advocate Sr Helen Prejean. The Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice foundation will use a grant from the CCC in part to produce animated videos about Catholic social principles.
The USCCB statement made no mention of projects in support of other Conference priorities, such as pro-life initiatives or efforts to support religious freedom.
“Today, our Catholic Communication Campaign enables the Church to continue promoting Jesus’ message of faith, hope, and healing through mass media,” said Archbishop Hartmayer, adding the invitation to “please give generously, knowing that you are continuing the work of the apostles.”