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Holy Father’s Lenten Message Calls for Sacrifice

Operation Rice Bowl provides vital assistance to poor around the world through Lenten Sacrifice

Baltimore, MD, March 3, 2011 – This year Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten message invites Catholics to consider the traditions of fasting and sacrifices. “For Christians,” the Holy Father said, “fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor.”

“This is exactly what we mean at CRS when we say that solidarity can transform the world," said Catholic Relief Services President, Ken Hackett. “As we state in our guiding principles: “We are all part of one human family — whatever our national, racial, religious, economic or ideological differences — and in an increasingly interconnected world, loving our neighbor has global dimensions.”

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Operation Rice Bowl, Catholic Relief Services’ annual Lenten program, offers Catholics here in the United States an opportunity to follow the Lenten call to sacrifice by learning about our brothers and sisters living in poverty, and by making sacrificial contributions that will help them improve their lives. This year’s theme, We are Disciples of all Nations, reflects this opportunity to reach out beyond our borders by highlighting the people and cuisine of Haiti, Indonesia, Senegal, Honduras and Kenya, and the CRS projects that help to alleviate poverty in these countries.

Each Lent, Catholic families, parishes and schools use symbolic rice bowls during the 40 days of Lent as the focal point for their prayer, fasting and learning. Participants fast in solidarity with those who hunger and make the small sacrifice of preparing simple, meatless recipes from developing countries each week, putting the money they would have spent on a big meal into the rice bowls. That money goes to support CRS’ mission to fight global hunger.

Catholics raise more than $8 million annually through Operation Rice Bowl. Seventy-five percent of contributions support CRS’ development projects overseas, including agriculture projects to help farmers improve crop yields, water projects to bring clean water to communities, microfinance projects that support the growth of small businesses and provide families with reliable income, and health projects to provide basic medical care to poor and vulnerable communities. Twenty-five percent of contributions remain in dioceses in the U.S. to support local hunger and poverty alleviation efforts.

Resources for your use, including stories, photos and multimedia, are available at orb.crs.org/.


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