Withholding financial contributions

The withholding of financial contributions to the Church is an effective means for the faithful to register disapproval with the hierarchy. A consistently empty Sunday collection plate makes a statement that is hard to ignore.

In the USA, some reform groups have been urging Catholics to withhold contributions until the Church gets tough with sexual abusers in the priesthood and opens up its files for a full accounting of four decades of clerical abuse. The phenomenon has become quite ecumenical, with Episcopal Church officials recently announcing a $3 million shortfall in the church’s 2004 budget, caused chiefly by parishes and dioceses withholding funds to protest the ordination of a homosexual bishop.

At St Vincent’s the decision to let the plate pass by was taken when the Neocats were first imposed upon the community. In recognition of the importance of finding alternatives to contributing to the Cardinal’s coffers every Sunday, St Vincent’s parishioners apply their tithes to immediate needs, by, for example, supporting the Sharing of the Meal and providing financial assistance to members of its extended community in crisis situations.

A representative sample of the weekly takings as reported in the Saving Word Church bulletin is shown in the graph below. The peaks correspond to St Vincent de Paul’s feast day ($157.00) and Christmas day ($188.70) – both distinguished by a significant number of non-regular church-goers in the congregation.

Weekly collections at St Vincent’s

The Church Mouse has overheard parish priest Prindiville on several occasions state that nothing will be spent on essential church improvements until the community starts putting money on the plate again. A long outstanding case in point is the provision of a hand rail at the main entrance to help older members of the community to negotiate the steps in safety. The Archdiocese might find it cheaper to invest in a little prevention than to cope with the inevitable consequences of poor stewardship.
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