Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has sent a letter to all U.S. bishops asking them to consider taking up a voluntary special collection in their dioceses for the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund. Donations to the special collection will assist with the humanitarian, long-term recovery, and significant Church needs stemming from Hurricane Ida which made landfall in the Gulf Coast and made its way inland as a tropical storm, causing damage across several states. Archbishop Gomez’s request follows another request he made several weeks ago to the bishops where he asked them to consider a voluntary special collection for Haiti in the aftermath of the August 14 earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace.
In his letter sent to bishops, Archbishop Gomez detailed that the funds collected in this special appeal would be used to support the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church, as well as the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services. These official relief agencies of the U.S. Catholic Church along with their local agencies respond to immediate emergency needs and recovery efforts.
“Funds will be used in response to the hurricane and the impact of subsequent flooding and tornados and any other disasters that occur and will be distributed where they are most needed. However, if such purpose(s) become unnecessary, impractical, or impossible to fill, USCCB may use such contributions for other emergency disaster relief where it is most needed as determined by the Committee on National Collections using its emergency response protocol,” he said in his letter.
Recognizing the financial challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on parish and diocesan activities, but also acknowledging the great need for supporting the recovery efforts from the natural disasters that have hit the dioceses, Archbishop Gomez expressed hope in the generosity of the faithful and their care for those in need.