Catholic Bishops Urge Participation in 2010 Census

April 30, 2009

Communities of color, immigrant communities traditionally undercounted
Census numbers key to determine allocation of public funding

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - Through the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to encourage participation in the Census 2010, in order to reach hard-to-count communities.

“By reaching out to more than 25,000 parishes and missions, we hope to trumpet the importance of being counted as well as channel interested persons toward employment as census takers,” said Beverly Carroll, assistant director for African American Affairs of the Secretariat.

Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity, urged parishes and dioceses to encourage local people to participate.

“It is important to get the word out because some of the populations we serve tend to normally be undercounted,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Pastors have a responsibility to know their flock. The Church commends to bishops, priests and their many co-workers the care of all Catholics in their parishes and dioceses. The U.S. Census is a useful tool for learning about God’s people, who and where they are, and many other facts that shed light on their lives, possibilities and struggles. A Church that seeks to evangelize is characterized by outreach. The U.S. Census gives us important information to do that.”

The information gathered by the Census is confidential and only shared in aggregate numbers (statistics) once the surveys are completed.

Jesuit Father Allan F. Deck, executive director of the Cultural Diversity Secretariat stressed the social and political urgency of being counted. 

“It is in peoples’ best interest to be counted,” Father Deck said. “This is how our country makes decisions about allocation of resources and local representation, regardless race or immigration status. Your participation is vital to insure that your community gets its fair share of federal funds for schools, roads, parks and other services.”

The 2010 Census preparatory efforts are already under way through address canvassing and partnership recruitment.

Approximately 140,000 census workers, hired from within each local community, will cover most neighborhoods to identify each residential address. This will help ensure that everyone residing in the United States receives a 2010 Census questionnaire. Combined with the use of new technologies, organizers hope the result of this effort will be the most comprehensive U.S. address list in existence. The Office of the Census Bureau has expressed the importance of community partnerships to raise awareness and increasing participation in hopes of gathering more complete data and offering a more accurate picture of each U.S. neighborhood.

“It’s easy, important and safe to participate,” said Cecile Motus, assistant director for Asian and Pacific Island Affairs of the Secretariat. “We are joining hands with other churches and community groups to encourage the participation and involvement of everyone in Census 2010 for the sake of our communities.”

“We urge Hispanics/Latinos to make sure they are counted,” said Alejandro Aguilera, the Secretariat’s assistant director for Hispanic Affaires.  “At stake is congressional representation as well as the allocation of more than $300 billion annually in federal funds. We want to make sure the neighborhoods where we live get their fair share. It is also vital to get a more accurate picture of the diversity in the U.S. population,” Aguilera said.

A growing number of Catholic dioceses have already begun working with the Census Bureau.

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