MY CATHOLIC FAITH
61. The National Catholic Welfare Conference
What is the National Catholic Welfare Conference? --The National Catholic Welfare Conference is an organization of the cardinals, archbishops and bishops of the United States, centered at Washington, with the purpose of unifying, coordinating, and organizing the Catholics of the country in works of social welfare, education, and similar activities, by means particularly of the press and of existing lay organizations.
- The NCWC represents the united influence of the hierarchy on national, social, and civic policies; it provides a remarkable leadership for the promotion of social justice, education, a Catholic press, and coordinated lay action. In a certain sense, the NCWC is the nerve center of the Church in America.
The NCWC particularly aims at the participation of the laity in the work of the Church, building up and strengthening the Kingdom of Christ; for surely the laity forms part of the Mystical Body of Christ.
- The NCWC is national storehouse, clearing-house, and powerhouse; to fulfill its purpose it uses chiefly the press, the radio, conferences, and forums. The NCWC does not aim to create new organizations; its purpose is to help, strengthen, and unify those already existing.
The NCWC collects information and puts it out in printed form; it gives advice and field service connected with the work of the various divisions.
The illustration (above) shows the organization, departments, and functions of the NCWC. Over all is an Administrative Board of ten archbishops and bishops; the Board is elected at the annual meeting of the cardinals, archbishops and bishops of the country. U.S. cardinals are members ex officio.
An annual report is made to the Holy See. No official action of the Conference as a whole can be taken without authorization from the Administrative Board. At the annual general meeting of the bishops, the administrative bishops give detailed reports, and obtain authorization for their work.
- The Episcopal Chairman of the Executive Department is the General Secretary. He not only directs the multiple activities of the different divisions in his department, but also supervises and coordinates the work of the other units of the NCWC. He is the executive officer of the Conference.
Through the General Secretary the departmental reports and all information about the work of the headquarters staff are regularly sent to the administrative board members.
Have episcopal committees been formed in addition to the eight Departments? --Yes, certain episcopal committees have been formed, to deal with special problems.
- The American Board of Catholic Missions has jurisdiction over the collection of funds for both home and foreign missions.
- The Committee on Propagation of the Faith promotes the work of the Pontifical Society.
- The Committee on the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine organizes the work of that Confraternity in the spread of knowledge and practice of the Faith.
- The Committee on Seminaries is concerned in the spiritual and intellectual training given in seminaries.
- The Committee on Motion Pictures promotes the production of good moral pictures and discourages the production of objectionable pictures. It directs the National Legion of Decency.
- The Committee on the National Organization for Decent Literature works against indecent periodical literature,
- The Welfare, Emergency, and Relief Committee, in which membership is identical with the Administrative Board, coordinates the raising and distribution of funds to meet relief needs.
- The War Relief Services attends to relief abroad, and administers a program of assistance to war victims.
- The National Catholic Resettlement Council finds homes and employment for displaced persons in the United States.
- The National Catholic Community Service is the official Catholic agency to serve the spiritual, welfare, and recreational needs of men and women in the armed forces, war production workers, and families.
- The Catholic Committee for Refugees provides material and spiritual aid to exiles from their countries.
Other Bishops Committees are: to Promote the Pope's Peace Plan, for the North American College in Rome, to Complete the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, for Catholic Migrants, for Polish Relief, for the Spanish-speaking, for the Mexican Seminary.