Church urges faithful to fill out census

By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

Ten questions. Ten minutes. Ten years.

Cardinal Justin Rigali is calling on his priests to encourage Catholics across the Archdiocese to participate in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Census forms are being delivered in March to all residences in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau wants to know who is living where on April 1.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) is also assisting in the endeavor, distributing background information about the census as well as parish bulletin announcements to further promote participation.

The U.S. Constitution requires a national census every 10 years to provide a population count and to determine equal representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“In addition, the information collected through the 2010 census will play a vital role in funding allocations for many programs and services that support inspaniduals and families living within the Archdiocese,” the Cardinal said in a letter to priests dated March 2.

“Furthermore, funding for critical community services and the location of schools, hospitals and senior centers and other facilities all depend on accurate census data,” he said.

Annually, up to $400 billion in federal funding is distributed to the states based on formulas derived from the census numbers. Such needs, he said, cannot be met if Pennsylvania does not receive its fair share.

“The information gathered through this year’s census will have a significant impact on the everyday work of staff in parishes and institutions as they provide services to the faithful of the Archdiocese,” continued the Cardinal.

“Therefore, it is extremely important that we reach a wide cross section of groups, some of which are often overlooked and forgotten, and strongly encourage their response to the census questionnaire.”

All U.S. residents must be counted – people of all races and ethnic groups, citizens and non-citizens alike.

This year’s census will ask 10 questions – all of which, census coordinators say, can be answered within 10 minutes.

They include one’s name, date of birth, gender, race, whether one owns or rents a home as well as questions about race and ethnicity.

“Every question provides valuable information for shaping the future,” the Cardinal said. The census does not ask about immigration status nor for the respondents’ Social Security numbers.

All responses are confidential and protected under federal law. None of the information collected is shared with other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Msgr. Michael J. Carroll, director of the archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, is member of the Mayor’s Interfaith Complete Count Committee in matters of the census. Msgr. Carroll and his fellow faith leaders are working in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in assisting Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in maximizing the city’s participation in the census.

“The significance of the census is that it affects the welfare of the community,” Msgr. Carroll said. “The present census ordinary form is 10 questions which will take 10 minutes and would affect 10 years,” he added.

Think “ten, ten, ten,” Msgr. Carroll said.

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CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or