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US Catholic Bishops’ Restructuring Leaves Advocacy Partners Uncertain Amid Layoffs

US Catholic Bishops' Restructuring Leaves Advocacy Partners Uncertain Amid Layoffs
US Catholic Bishops' Restructuring Leaves Advocacy Partners Uncertain Amid Layoffs

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced a restructuring of its Justice, Peace & Human Development department, leaving partner organizations uncertain about their next steps. Steven Nabieu Rogers, executive director of the Africa Faith and Justice Network, expressed hope for an alternative plan to continue their advocacy work, which relies heavily on support from the bishops’ office.

Rogers highlighted the critical role of the USCCB’s international justice and peace office in his organization’s efforts, particularly in connecting the African church with the American church. The partnership has enabled the sharing of crucial information and the advancement of priorities that the Africa Faith and Justice Network couldn’t achieve alone.

The USCCB confirmed internal layoffs and restructuring, with positions focused on Africa and Asia being cut. Rogers stressed the importance of maintaining relationships with these rapidly growing regions. The restructuring includes transforming the department into the Secretariat of Justice and Peace, with some staff moved and others laid off.

US Catholic Bishops' Restructuring Leaves Advocacy Partners Uncertain Amid Layoffs

US Catholic Bishops’ Restructuring Leaves Advocacy Partners Uncertain Amid Layoffs

Financial reasons were cited for the restructuring, with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) experiencing lower collections recently. However, former department leaders questioned this justification, arguing that the cuts exceeded the financial dips attributed to the pandemic. Some believe the mission should drive the church, not financial concerns.

Critics like Michael Hichborn have long opposed CCHD, alleging it funds groups that contradict Catholic teachings. His campaign influenced some bishops, leading to discussions about CCHD’s future and proposals to redirect funds to Catholic education. Bishop Thomas Paprocki suggested replacing CCHD with a collection for Catholic education, arguing it would better help lift the poor out of poverty.

Despite the layoffs, advocates such as Rogers and Garcia-Ashley remain committed to their missions, emphasizing the importance of continuing efforts to eradicate poverty. They praised the talented staff who were let go and discussed the need for organizations to seek new resources and possibly take on new roles. There is hope that the bishops’ conference will find a way to continue supporting their work with Africa.

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