Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

SHOULD THE FAITHFUL HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE THEIR BISHOP?

April 21, 2012

  Joseph F. O’Callaghan 

The right of the clergy and people of the diocese to choose their bishops is hallowed by usage from the earliest times, by canons enacted by Church Councils, and by repeated papal affirmation. Today, however, the pope appoints bishops without significant input from the faithful of the diocese.

 Since the Second Vatican Council theologians, canonists, and church historians have argued that the process of choosing bishops must be reformed. In 1971 The Second Synod of the Diocese of Bridgeport, convened by Bishop Walter W. Curtis, declared: “The basic Christian principles of co-responsibility, the dignity and freedom of persons, and the rights of Christians have traditionally dictated broad participation in the process of selecting bishops. With this in mind the Diocese of Bridgeport will work to develop means whereby priests and laity may have a voice in nominations of candidates for the Episcopal Office” (2:26). However, nothing further seems to have been done to implement that decision.

 Today bishops are usually strangers to the diocese over which they preside and are often transferred to other wealthier and more prestigious dioceses. As a result, bishops are often viewed as agents of an international corporation inRomeand as careerists anxious to move up the ecclesiastical ladder. Even Cardinal Ratzinger decried any sense of careerism among bishops.

 The time has come to acknowledge that the People of God, particularly the clergy and people of the diocese, should have the primary role in choosing their bishop, whose leadership will significantly affect their spiritual well-being. All the faithful, clergy and laity alike, are best suited to evaluate the challenges facing the diocese, to indicate the qualities of pastoral and spiritual leadership desirable in a bishop, and to propose candidates whom they believe to be worthy of the episcopal office.

 In doing so, the clergy and people will be observing the age-old tradition of the Church expressed by Pope Celestine I (422-32) who said: “the one who is to be head over all should be elected by all.” He added: “No one who is unwanted should be made a bishop; the desire and consent of the clergy, the people, and the order is required.”

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Do You Know Where Your Donated Money Is Going?

November 13, 2009

Money BagThe Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently announced that it is closing two of its high schools, only months after announcing a five-year, $200 million fundraising campaign. At the time that campaign commenced, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McFadden was quoted as saying, “Right now, we’re making ends meet.” To me, that comment, juxtaposed with the high school closings, sounds inconsistent with a $50,000 contribution by the Archdiocese to the effort sponsored by the Diocese of Portland, Maine to nullify marriage for same-sex couples in that state.

 But, Philadelphia was hardly alone. Records required to be filed under the government ethics and election practices laws of the state of Maine reveal that as of October 20th, Catholic archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States had contributed over $200,000 to the Ballot Question Committee (“BQC”) organized by the Diocese of Portland to overturn a statute passed by the Maine legislature and signed by its governor, a Catholic, authorizing same sex partners to marry. On last November 3, the initiative was approved. Those same records indicate that the Diocese reported that more than $250,000 raised by the BQC was categorized as “General Treasury Transfers,” which seems to indicate that those funds came directly from the Diocese of Portland.

 Whatever we as Catholics may think of the premise of this legislation, I wonder whether any of us knew that our diocese was sending money to Maine to overturn this law? Did our bishop tell us that he was sending a portion of our contributions out-of-state to lobby on behalf of a political initiative? Does he do this on other matters? If so, what might they be? In the interests of openness, accountability and transparency, we as Catholics have the right, perhaps even the obligation, to ask these questions, and demand an answer.

 Another interesting question to ask is whether this is a way to divert dollars from an organization that is qualified to receive tax-exempt contributions, such as the Catholic Church, to an organization that does not itself enjoy that status.

 In addition to Philadelphia, the Diocese of Phoenix also contributed $50,000. Other dioceses, among them St. Louis, Newark and Youngstown, each contributed $10,000. Two other entities, the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas, and the Diocesan Assistance Fund, of Providence, RI, each also contributed $10,000. In the case of these last two contributions, it seems pertinent to ask whether or not any disclosure was ever made to those who were solicited to support these organizations that part of their donations would be sent out of state to support political activities, rather than to support the poor, the schools and the other social justice works typically carried out by such organizations.

 While these are some of the larger donations, the records through late October indicate that almost fifty dioceses sent funds to Portland to aid in this effort, as well as many clergy and bishops who appear to have contributed out of their own resources. Among these were Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT and Bishop William Lennon of Cleveland, who was formerly assigned to Boston, both of whom sent $1,000. Such a widespread, coordinated effort raises the question of whether this campaign was orchestrated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 Additionally, the Knights of Columbus contributed over $50,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine, the principal organization that worked to overturn this law and the sole direct recipient, other than for incidental expenses, of the more than $550,000 raised by the Portland Diocese to promote an agenda that is, at its core, profoundly discriminatory.

 For a list of those who contributed to the Portland Diocese’s BQC through 10/20/09, see:

http://www.mainecampaignfinance.com/public/entity_financial_transactions.asp?TYPE=BQC&ID=4528

 Please check it, to see whether your diocese participated in this effort.  And think twice, before you write that next check to your parish church or annual bishop’s appeal.

Daniel B. Sullivan

Co-Chair, Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport