U.S. Catholics raise millions for churches formerly persecuted by Soviet Union

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Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, Catholic dioceses were persecuted and stripped of their land and churches under the Soviet Union. Now, 30 years after its fall, American Catholics have raised 3.56 million dollars to support them in rebuilding their faith communities.

Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe

“They endured a lot of oppression, and persecution. And when it was time for the Soviet bloc to dissolve back in the early 90's, the land was not necessarily given back, so they had to rebuild from the ashes. What we're doing, our purpose, is sort of the three R's, and that is to rebuild as well as restore, with resolve.”

Bishop Monforton of Steubenville, Ohio oversees the U.S. Bishops' Conference's initiatives in Eastern Europe. He says that the Church in the United States has a responsibility to help other Catholic communities in need around the world. 

Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe

“In the visits I've made to Albania, Kyrgyzstan, and others, these are the peripheries. They're trying to rebuild, and it takes resources they don't have. We have those resources, and we have a responsibility. We are our brother's and sister's keeper.”

The projects supported by the collection range from constructing of a cathedral in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to offering resources for pregnant mothers in Georgia. 

The Church in Central and Eastern Europe has also been a recent focus of Pope Francis, who announced that he will be traveling to Budapest, Hungary, and Slovakia in September. For Bishop Monforton, the Pope's gesture is an example of his powerful outreach.

Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe

“It's a reminder for the people of Slovakia that they're not forgotten, and the Holy Father, Pope Francis is putting his actions behind his words by reaching out to the peripheries. Because you have some Central and Eastern European countries that are bouncing back, others that are really going to need a lot more training wheels before they make it there.”

The Catholic community in Central and Eastern Europe will be sure to receive attention from around the globe during the Pope's visit to Slovakia—a reminder of the unity within the universal Church.


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