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Parish Finance, Social Justice, or Political Agenda

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Support to the Parish: In my posting “It has begun” on September 27 I briefly discussed why my wife and I have withdrawn financial support from St. Peter’s Catholic Church. It was quite simple: “…I cannot place money in the general Sunday collection until it is 100% certain that my money will not be going to a non-Catholic cause.” Fr. Grinnell could not provide a simple response assuring me that would be the case. This post, and others in the future will discuss the reason for my concern.

1. The Past: According to the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church Website, as of June 23, 2014:

“The parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo parish are actively engaged in the Catholic social mission. Our ministries include those in the areas of Advocacy, Community Involvement, Direct Service, Education, Health & Wellness, and International Solidarity. We also have a tithing program to reach out in our community and beyond.”

On another page at the same site there was a “Tithe Application Form” that outlined a tithing program that is best described as a mini-Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). (If you are not familiar with both the positive and negative sides of the CCHD, please refer to the US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and American Life League (ALL) Web sites.)

Guidelines: The tithing funds from St. Charles will be used to support organizations involved in charity (direct service), education, advocacy, community organizing or evangelization and can include programs that address local and global needs. Due to increased deamnd [sic] for funding, and limitations in meeting all requests through weekly tithing, St. Charles has implemented this application process for considering requests. Organizations that have some connection or tie to St. Charles will be given priority consideration.”

Interestingly, on the date that these Web pages were accessed, there was a rather curios parenthetical note appended to the first quote above:

“(The tithing program is currently suspended until further notice due to parish finances.)”

Of course, one would wonder what parish finance problem precipitated the suspension of parish tithing at St. Charles Borromeo. The answer can be found on Facebook. In a letter from Fr. Grinnell we learn:

“The Parish is running out of money. We are cash poor! This has caused us to do something I hoped never would happen. We have tithed 10% of our Sunday collections for over 30 years to organizations that do good work on behalf of the poor and the least of our brothers and sisters. We have now temporarily suspended our weekly tithe collection to conserve cash.”

According to Fr. Grinnell, the parish tithing program was suspended because of unanticipated subsidies to the parish school and needed repairs to the church building. Keep in mind that 10% of parish funds had gone to the causes outlined above, many of which were both non-Catholic and non-spiritual and some of which were politically/spiritually questionable, for “over 30 years” Meanwhile, the parish school had to close its doors and a voice for Catholic religious instruction was silenced.

2. The Present: I would suspect that my wife and I are not alone in finding the above information to be troubling. What we see above is the open record and not the actual record of finances. Thus, there is much that we may be missing or do not understand. Nevertheless, when I spoke to Fr. Grinnell on July 25th, he was not able to tell me firmly and directly that funds from the general Sunday collection would not go to the same type of questionable “social justice” causes noted at St. Charles Borromeo.

So, that brings us to some obvious questions:

– What is happening within and to the St. Peter’s Finance Council?

– Does the Council’s composition (size and representation) remain as it did under previous pastors?

– Have new members been appointed with/without consultation with other members?

– Has the leadership within the Council been advised of Fr. Grinnell’s intentions regarding his vision of the financial
future of the Parish?

– Will St. Peter’s become a tithing parish?

– Will “social justice” and non-Catholic causes come to take prominence over “spiritual justice” in the way St. Peter’s allocates the funds contributed by its parishioners? By the way, whatever happened to the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy?

– Will any of these questions be answered in the St. Peter’s bulletin for from the pulpit?

If they are not answered, then perhaps the issue should be pressed. Full transparency, publication of all Finance Council meeting agenda and minutes should be requested and, if necessary, demanded.

3. The Future: Lately, those who want to see the Roman Catholic Church depart from its teachings on the family and marriage have been quick to talk about the “Spirit of Pope Francis.” I am not opposed to studying closely the teaching of the Holy Father. So, let’s consider what Pope Francis had to say just this past weekend:

“We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.” (Vatican News)

“Social justice” does not save souls in the way that “spiritual justice” does. The flock must be nourished – not fleeced.

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