Bishop John O. Barres of the Catholic Diocese of Allentown has authorized parishes in the diocese to take up a special collection for victims of the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.

The bishop said, "As we have all been following the tragic aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we cannot help but be moved to reach out in Christian charity to those affected."

The bishop has authorized all 104 parishes in the five counties of the diocese to take up a special collection on one of the following weekends: March 26, 27 or April 2, 3. The proceeds of this collection will be sent to Catholic Relief Services (www.catholicrelief.org).

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is headquartered in Baltimore. The bishops of the United State founded it in 1943 to serve the poor and disadvantaged and to alleviate human suffering. It operates on five continents in over 90 countries.

Sean Callahan, CRS vice president of Overseas Services, said, "The people of Japan who have suffered this tragedy are our brothers and sisters. We know that it is our mission to help them in this time of need."