The Catholic Conference of Italian Bishops will broadcast a series of spots on national television meant to raise awareness for the economic needs of Italy's 38,000 diocesan priests. The commercials, due to be released in the days leading up to the feast of the Immaculate Conception, emphasize the continual efforts of the conference to collect funds for the clergy.
For the last 20 years, the Catholic Conference of Italian Bishops (CEI) has footed the costs of its 38,000 diocesan priests, 600 of whom work in foreign missions. The CEI has been creative in pushing new initiatives for their fundraising outreach, counting a flash-based website among their inventory of resources for receiving donations.
The new 30-second spots, filmed in black and white, follow three priests as they carry out their vocations of service to the Gospel.
These “commercials” include specific information on how the viewer can make an offering to a fund and "sustain the activity of... diocesan priests, above all those in the smallest communities and communities where there is the most need."
In Italy, these donations are put into a collective fund for the shared use of all of the dioceses.
Diocesan priests also receive a stipend from the state. Since 2006, there has been a program in place called 5 per mille, or five per thousand, through which a person is able to specify the destination of 0.5% of their annual taxes. They may choose to give this cut to any one of a number of non-profits, research institutions or social initiatives in place of the Church, but if none of these options is indicated, the percentage is destined to the CEI.
Bishop of Caserta Pietro Farina, President of the Committee for the Promotion of Economic Support for the dioceses of Italy, comments on the CEI website on the value of these funds to the country, "We all know how much the Church, through its multiple activities, pastoral and social actions and, most of all, through the presence of its ministers is important for the well-being of our country. What would our cities be without our priests?
"Educating the community to sustain them," he continues, "even though an offering goes not only your own parish priest, but to all priests, means educating the community as to the sense of fraternal communion, of active participation and of real ecclesial co-responsibility."