ANN ARBOR, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Just after the close of the U.S. bishops' meeting in Baltimore, Legatus, a national group of Catholic businessmen, announced it would be temporarily revoking its annual tithe to the Holy See. Members who have already paid dues will get refunds, and members who have not yet donated will get revised invoices minus the tithe.
On Friday, Chairman Thomas Monaghan issued a letter to members making clear it was not yet "prudent" to send money to the Vatican in light of "the current crisis in the Church."
"Since our founding, the annual tithe has been an important part of Legatus membership," the letter states. "Thus, it is the intent of the Board to reinstate this practice once we have sufficient communication regarding the specific accountability related to the use of these funds. The Board will revisit this topic by the fall of 2019 in order to chart a plan related to the 2020 dues."
The annual tithe is significant, reaching nearly $1 million. Just two days before Monaghan's letter, the bishops had wrapped up their three-day meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, a conference viewed largely as a failure. The meeting opened with the surprise announcement from Rome that the bishops could not make any binding resolutions on sex abuse — the very reason they were meeting — and closed with a failed measure to release files on sexual predator Abp. Theodore McCarrick, voted down 137–83.
Monaghan's November 16 letter follows his Sept. 6 announcement that the organization would be temporarily withholding the tithe, after the Church's "Summer of Shame" prompted multiple calls from concerned members.
Church Militant has confirmed that among those calls was a written plea from James Longon, former head of the audit committee of the Papal Foundation. Longon resigned from the Foundation earlier this year after then-chairman Cdl. Donald Wuerl rammed through a controversial $25 million grant to the Vatican — money that to this day remains unaccounted for.
"Events over the past few weeks have prompted many members to contact the national office and members of the Board of Governors regarding the current crisis in the Church," the Sept. 6 letter from Monaghan states.
"We have also had discussions regarding our (Legatus') annual tithe to the Holy See, specifically pertaining to how it is being used, and what financial accountability exists within the Vatican for such charitable contributions," the letter continues. " The Board has begun a dialogue along these lines, and in the meantime has decided to place the Holy See annual tithe in escrow, pending further determination (by the Board).
"We certainly pledge our continued devotion to Holy Mother Church, and recognize the tithe has been an important commitment of Legatus since our founding," Monaghan wrote. "However, in light of recent revelations and questions, we believe it appropriate to respectfully request clarification regarding the specific use of these funds."
The full Nov. 16 letter follows:
Dear fellow members,
On September 6th, I wrote you on behalf of the Board of Governors to share with you the Board’s decision to withhold our annual tithe to the Holy See (and place it in escrow). Since that time, I know you have been ardently praying for the Church and all of our leaders. Let us continue to do so; it is evident that it is going to take time for the current crisis in the Church to be addressed to the point where the Board believes the reinstatement of our annual tithe would be prudent.
Therefore, it is the decision of the Board of Governors to forego collecting the annual tithe represented in your 2019 dues. For those who have already submitted their dues, the National Office will refund the appropriate amount earmarked for the Holy See contribution in a timely fashion. For those who have not yet remitted your dues, new invoices will be sent.
Since our founding, the annual tithe has been an important part of Legatus membership. Thus, it is the intent of the Board to reinstate this practice once we have sufficient communication regarding the specific accountability related to the use of these funds. The Board will revisit this topic by the fall of 2019 in order to chart a plan related to the 2020 dues.
As George Weigel so articulately stated in his Wall Street Journal article entitled, A Crisis, but not of Faith (August 30, 2018), the Church is most certainly in crisis, but it is not a crisis of Faith. As an organization, Legatus continues to pledge its devotion to and solidarity with Holy Mother Church; this is a time when we need to live the mission of Legatus more than ever.
As we approach the Advent season, let us continue to pray for healing and courage for the Church. Please be assured of the Board’s prayers for you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Thomas S. Monaghan
Chairman & CEO