Lots of ordinary Catholics sitting in the pews are completely in the dark about how their dioceses operate financially. Let's just say, sometimes, it's a little shady.
Starting with the weekly donations, the parish envelopes: Each diocese actually charges a tax on that collection. Depending on which diocese or archdiocese you are in, it ranges from approximately 7–13%.
Sometimes it's a double tax; they take part now, and then come around and take more later. But be aware, those of you Catholics who may not have really thought much about it and are disgusted that the money you give with the care for the parish in mind that some of that money — let's just average it out at 10% — is going to fuel the downtown bureaucracy and all the pet projects you are never really told about.
Now, if you don't want your money going downtown (not even 10%), then there are ways around this, a little creative financing. Since all Catholics are obligated to support their parish — that must be adhered to, but how you do it — well, now there's lots of room to play with here.
For example, you and a group of like-minded, fed-up Catholics can simply approach the pastor and say you aren't putting money in the basket anymore because you don't want it going to the bishop and his cronies.
And really quickly — of course the bishop and the diocese have legitimate expenses, but they also have very questionable ones. And they are massively lacking in transparency about how much goes where.
Salaries should be published. Legal expenses should be public. How much is being spent protecting errant clergy? In fact, how every last dime is spent should be public. It's your money.
God didn't declare the income and expense sheets should be under papal secret or governed by divine law. Publish the numbers in an understandable format. Until a bishop or archbishop does that, forget it. Cut 'em off.
If they have to tighten their belts like all of us do, so be it. Sell the real estate holdings. Sell the revenue-generating properties.
So, everyday pewsitters, the Catholic peasantry, can simply tell the pastor: We will pay some of the parish bills ourselves.
So, Father, when the water bill or the electricity bill comes in, get it to me and my friends. And whatever we give, all of it will go to the parish itself — not funding the lesbian nuns doowntown running the "religious education" department, or Fr. Social Justice, or the protestant ALPHA nonsense.
Catholics have a right to know and be able to choose and confirm their money, their donations, their charity is being spent the way they want it spent.
A number of parishes around the country have parishioners who have actually set up non-profit corporations and then apply for and get tax-exempt status. The money given to those is tax-free, and every single penny is used to support the parish, and nothing but the parish. The diocese and the local bishop get none of it.
And until trust is restored, they shouldn't be getting any of it.
Now here's a little shady thing that bishops and their cronies do that many Catholics know nothing about, and it's downright sneaky.
Almost every year, nearly every diocese runs some special fundraising campaign. They always have these corny scriptural or theological-sounding names, but they are money grabs.
The archbishop usually does some video which is played in the place of the homily at every Mass, and he drones on about all the good things the money is used for. And sure, it probably does get used for some good things. But again, you never know, and try asking where all of it goes.
So here's the trick: Every bishop is assigned a certain amount they must collect, let's say, for example, $100,000. The parish's assignment is packaged as: Please give generously, and every dime over and above the $100,000 goes straight back to the parish. True enough.
But here's the rub. If a parish does not meet the assigned goal, the bishop just goes into the bank account and takes it out anyway.
And yes, you heard that correctly. "Hello, I'm the archbishop. We are assigning you a 100K assessment. So please donate. Please be generous and charitale. However, if you don't meet the assessment, I'm just gonna raid your bank account and take it anyway."
So, a question here for the financiers in the chancery: How exactly does taking a parish's money against their will qualify as "charity"? Isn't charity something freely given? Taking money from someone they don't want you to have is called theft.
Of course this puts pastors in a massive bind because they don't want the parish bank account raided, so they have the uncomfortable job of essentially being forced — because they are being extorted — to stand up in the pulpit and push a collection many of them don't really support.
But this is how business is done — routinely.
How come the archbishop doesn't say all that in his video which preempts the homily? Please give, or I'm just gonna take it anyway.
It's these kinds of duplicitous, underhanded, sneaky, non-transparent, unaccountable double dealings that are making Catholics close their wallets more and more.
Here's the bottom line: Many bishops and archbishops in the United States live not as servants but as lords of the manor. They have grown up in a system easily given to moral and financial and political corruption because they hide behind the fact that they are the successors of the Apostles and therefore can never be questioned.
That's ridiculous. Not all of them certainly, but too many bishops — many of them very notable — run their dioceses like their own personal 401k's.
Wilton Gregory, for example, now in D.C. from Atlanta, had given the green light to a multi-million-dollar expansion to his house — until he got busted in the secular media and then begged off, saying he didn't realize how it would appear.
Retired Abp. John Myers, who covered up nicely for McCarrick in Newark, New Jersey, spent hundreds of thousands expanding his archdiocesan-owned retirement villa.
And so it goes. There are dozens and dozens of examples like this.You don't need to look any further than Cdl. Dolan's lavish upstate New York pad, which, while it was donated, still costs to maintain.
There's no other way to say this. Catholics in the pews are being taken for fools by too many bishops. They are laughing all the way to the bank, taking your money and refusing to tell you how it's all being spent.
That's what brought down West Virginia Bp. Michael Bransfield, who boozed it up to the tune of a thousand bucks a month (which the Washington Post revealed a few weeks back), forcing him to retire in disgrace.
When will Catholics stop being so foolish? Stop giving these men money each week in the plate. Pay for your parish directly so the bishop doesn't get his cut.
When he goes to raid the bank account each year after failing to get the assigned "charitable" amount, he'll find not enough money in the account.
This financial evil is funding the moral evil and corruption and it's gotta stop. There are too many morally corrupt men who are in the Church's hierachy and clergy for the entirely wrong reasons. Cutting off the money won't solve everything, but it will solve some things, and it's something you can do right now, immediately.
All over the country, unofficial reports are starting to roll in that Catholics are giving less. We need to give even less. No money to the USCCB's annual appeals for their social justice garbage, like CRS and CCHD. No money to the local bishop's annual slush fund — which it might as well be, since you are never told, nor allowed to know, everything the money is spent on.
Cut 'em off.