"... and to contribute to the support of their pastors"

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 03, 2004

An animated discussion at Amy Welborn's blog takes up a number of interesting points, including the duty of Catholics to provide for their pastors, citing the Code of Canon Law, C. 222 ยง1:

Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, 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.

The problem doesn't concern the cost of candles and incense, but the nature of the "worthy support" to which our ministers have become accustomed. Canon 282 requires clerics "to avoid anything which smacks of worldliness" -- is "austerity" among the first half-dozen words that come to mind in describing your own pastor's lifestyle? Consider Bishop Robert Lynch's habit of rubbing-down burly young men in his free time; it cost the diocese -- not the bishop, the diocese -- $100,000 just to smooth the feathers of one unhappy pullet. Now everybody needs a hobby -- and none of Lynch's brethren has suggested his enthusiasms make him unsuited for the job -- but by my calculations a hundred G-notes can buy enough Kraft macaroni-and-cheese dinners to keep a clergyman fed for over 400 years. That's a lot of pastoring.

And today we learn that the Diocese of Orange just got the Buggery Bill in the mail. The total amount of the settlement is not stated, but reported to be larger than Boston's $85 million. Part of it comes from the petty cash drawer and the rest ... well, we borrow:

Maria Schinderle, general counsel for the diocese, said the sale of some property, as well as cash reserves, staff cuts and loans secured with church assets would raise the funds for the diocese's share of the settlement. The one major piece of property that is not a parish or school and is eligible to be sold is the diocese's 17-acre headquarters in Orange.

Remind me. Who was responsible for the $85+ million worth of mischief -- laymen or clergy?

All the more strange, then, that we don't see any item on the belt-tightening list that, explicitly or indirectly, bites into Father's temporal consolations. Until such rigors are in place, it's hard to believe we're into Canon 222 Panic Mode. So don't hesitate to send the lion's share of your alms to Mother Teresa's gals. When your bishop feels your contribution is more vital than his comradeship with Robert Lynch, he has a very clear, very simple, very effective way of letting you know.

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