The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg will no longer take part in the U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty program, choosing instead to create a diocesan fund to receive money that formerly went to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
The diocese sent nearly $95,000 to the campaign last year, but only a quarter of it was retained locally.
The newly created Matthew 25 Collection — to be gathered by parishes the week before Thanksgiving — will allow the diocese to track the funds and give parishes the ability to provide poverty relief on a local level, said diocesan spokesman Joe Aponick.
“The Matthew 25 Collection will provide more funding in southcentral Pennsylvania for direct material assistance and for addressing the root causes of poverty,” he said.
Matthew 25 will support local initiatives such as jobs programs and other projects aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty, as well as emergency needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, Aponick said. Ten percent will be retained by the local parish for human assistance as they see fit, and the remainder will go toward parish-based organizations that can apply for funding.
“Matthew 25” refers to the Gospel writings of the apostle Matthew that discuss compassion for the less fortunate and mercy for the sick, hungry, thirsty and imprisoned.
The bishops of other dioceses — including Allentown, Altoona-Johnstown and Greensburg in Pennsylvania — have also stopped taking collections for the campaign.
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