Have Some "Pence" for Peter?

Collection to Be Held Sunday for Pope's Charity Fund

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The annual Peter's Pence drive is an opportunity for Catholics to participate in the works of charity that characterized them as followers of Christ, says the director of the collection.



Monsignor Tullio Poli explained this in a press statement released ahead of the collection to be held Sunday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The collection can also be held on an alternative date chosen by the local bishop.

The Peter's Pence Collection enables the Holy Father to respond with emergency financial assistance to the needy throughout the world, especially those who suffer as a result of war, oppression, disease and natural disaster.

Monsignor Poli said the drive "manifests the affection of the faithful for the Supreme Pontiff and is an act of ecclesial solidarity with which Catholics participate in the good works that characterize them as followers of the Gospel."

"Peter's Pence enables the Pope, visible sign of unity in the Church, to respond to different needs with speedy and effective action," he added.

According to the latest figures released by the Vatican, the offerings of the faithful worldwide for the Pope's charity amounted to over $100 million in 2006.

Hope

The bishops of the United States announced earlier this month that the theme for the Peter's Pence collection in the country will be "Christ Our Hope." The theme echoes that of Benedict XVI's visit to the United States in April and the theme of his last encyclical, "Spe Salvi."

Bishop John Vlazny of Portland, Oregon, chairman of the conferences' Committee on National Collections, noted with gratitude the "Catholic faithful who stand in solidarity with the needs of Catholics around the world."

"Their generous contributions to the Peter's Pence Collection connect them to a centuries-old tradition of providing financial support to the works of the Holy Father. We are also grateful for the leadership of bishops, pastors, and Catholic communicators in this effort," he added.

The worldwide Peter's Pence Collection began as a "pence" --collection of pennies -- in ninth-century England, when King Alfred the Great collected monies from English landowners as financial support for the pope.

Pope Pius IX formally instituted the modern Peter's Pence Collection in the 1860s. Special appeals have since been held in many countries on the Sunday closest to June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The tradition of an annual collection continues today for the charitable works of the Holy Father.

Last year the U.S. dioceses reported sending over $1.6 million to the Holy Father for this collection. This amount is almost a 6% increase from 2006.

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On the Net:

Vatican Web site: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/obolo_spietro/documents/index_en.htm

U.S. Bishop's fact sheet: www.usccb.org/ppc