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On supporting the Church-- and not her enemies

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 19, 2009

 The precepts of the Church remind us that Catholics have a moral obligation to "contribute to the support of the Church." The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2043), in affirming this precept, cites #222 of the Code of Canon Law, which explains that the faithful must offer that support "so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for apostolic and charitable work and for the worthy support of its ministers."

I'd like to suggest what seems to me a necessary corollary to this precept. If we lay Catholics have a duty to support the work of the Church, does it not follow that we have an obligation not to support institutions that oppose the work of the Church?

This is not just a theoretical question. As more and more institutions in our society engage in open assaults on the faith, Catholic donors need to be much more prudent with their contributions. A laudable gift to a crisis-pregnancy center could be entirely offset by a thoughtless donation to politician who will do his utmost to close that center down.

The issue becomes more complicated when one considers the indirect support that we give to various businesses by patronizing them. These days the Church is forced to devote enormous resources to public efforts for the support of family life. Those efforts might not be necessary if the entertainment industry were not constantly denigrating the family. So does it make sense to contribute to those Church-sponsored campaigns, while simultaneously giving our business to those entertainment corporations? And how much good does it accomplish to pledge to the bishop's annual fundraising campaign, and then renew one's subscription to a newspaper that devotes its editorial energies to attacking the bishop?

The question becomes still more pointed when we realize that sometimes the enemies of Catholicism are waging a guerilla campaign from inside Catholic institutions. If it is a moral obligation to help pay for books and teachers and classrooms in order to instruct young people in the faith, isn't it equally obligatory not to support schools-- even parochial schools-- where students are trained to reject Church teaching?

My fundamental point here is that the moral duty to support the Church involves a duty to make one's contributions count. It's not enough to write checks; it's essential to know where the money is going.

 

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