Washington, DC -- When Pope Benedict XVI greets the churches of Washington, DC, and New York during his visit April 15-20, he is expected to praise and thank millions of American Catholics who generously participate in the work of the church worldwide through their yearly contributions of material support and service.

Each year Americans contribute $295 billion dollars to charity. Of that amount, some $96.8 billion is contributed to religion with Catholics contributing about one quarter of that yearly sum, or a little over $22 billion dollars in charity.

The 19,000 local Catholic parishes in the U.S. alone contribute about $6 billion yearly to local church support and some national and international church related causes including humanitarian relief and peacemaking.

Catholic institutions in the U.S. including 556 hospitals, 236 colleges and universities, 1,350 high schools, 6,500 grade schools, and 3,000 social service agencies comprise a $100 billion yearly economy.

“The Catholic rank and file, play an enormously important role in financing the church’s work here in America and throughout the world”, said Francis J. Butler, FADICA’s President. “No other country comes close in per capita member giving to the worldwide mission of the church,” he added.

“Philanthropy in the U.S. is uniquely organized. In no other country will you see the extent or habit of private giving as it exists in the U.S. nor will you see religious giving on the scale that is represented in America society”, said Dr. Butler.

“Increasingly Catholic social mobility, in large part made possible through a unique system of religious schools and an emphasis upon education by generations of religious and priests, has positioned ever growing numbers of American Catholics today in the ranks of major wealth holders,” Dr. Butler stated. “Great percentages of these individuals formed by the church, find the motivation and orientation to do good in the teachings of their faith,” he said. “It uniquely influences their grant making.”

The FADICA organization represents some of the largest private foundations in the U.S. with Catholic interests. Its present membership of some fifty private foundations collectively represents endowments totaling $4 billion with $248 million in giving in 2007.

“On this special occasion the foundation community is joyfully looking forward to the Holy Father’s visit to this country and to his words of encouragement as we together work to bring God’s mercy and hope to our world,” said Dr. Butler.