The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Analysis: The US Church is going broke. Here’s why, and what it could mean

by JD Flynn for CNA

(Image: pixabay.com)

Denver Newsroom, May 6, 2020 / 02:50 pm (CNA).- Well into the pandemic’s grip on American public life, parishes and dioceses are preparing a return to some new kind of normal.

Masses are resuming, albeit for small numbers in limited circumstances. Catholic schools and universities are making plans to reopen in the fall. Regrettably, even the ordinary fault lines and debates among Catholics, somewhat muted in recent months, are beginning to be revived.

But while some acute effects of the pandemic will shape the Church in the months to come, the collapsing global economy will have a far more enduring and dramatic impact on parishes, chanceries, and other Catholic ministries.

In other words, barring some kind of miraculous economic recovery, the Church, at least in the U.S., ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Despite some difficult bumps in the early weeks, many U.S. bishops seem to have found a reasonable balance between the spiritual needs of their flocks and the legitimate demands of public health officials.

Nevertheless, while dioceses are doing many things right, or at least better than they were at the beginning of the quarantines, few have found effective ways to continue raising money. And the cash crunch has already begun reshaping what the life of the Church will look like after the pandemic.

Parishes are funded mostly by their weekly collections, with some additional contribution to operational expenses from endowments or bequests that generate predictable revenue each year. Special projects like construction or renovation are usually funded by pledge drives, and financed through loans.

Even in ordinary times, Catholics are not generally known for generosity to parish collection plates. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimates that Catholic families registered in a parish give an average of $10 per week to that parish. By most estimates, that amount has been on the decline since the 2018 sexual abuse scandal, which has prompted widespread frustration with bishops among active Catholics.

From that $10, parishes pay their priests and lay personnel, including insurance and retirement costs, fund religious education and other ministries, maintain old buildings, and, if they have a school, subsidize its operations. Parishes also give some portion of their annual revenue to their diocese, in the form of a tax, although in some dioceses the parish goal for annual diocesan fundraising drive takes the place of a direct assessment.

In some parishes, costs to the diocese are the single biggest expense each month.

In recent years, parishes have made efforts to increase their online giving support, not in anticipation of a pandemic, but because income that comes from online giving is more predictable than parish offertory, and predictable income makes it easier to budget. Still, most studies suggest that online giving makes up only a small fraction of revenue for most parishes.

In short, even when people can actually go to Mass, the margins in most parishes are thin.

Those thin margins are why parish lay employees across the country have already faced layoffs or furloughs. While staff size in American parishes varies widely, in 2015 nearly 40,000 lay ministry professionals were employed in roughly 17,000 American parishes; an average of more than two such professionals, often religious education coordinators or youth ministers, per parish.

To avoid layoffs, some dioceses and parishes have applied for, and received federal payroll aid, but some applied after initial funding had run out, and others simply haven’t applied.

In any case, federal payroll aid is intended to cover a short-term decrease in revenue stemming from the immediate work stoppages of recent months. It is not designed to cover a long-term decrease in giving that could be occasioned by a lengthy faltering of them American economy. And while the stock market tends not to impact parish offertory, unemployment rates are generally thought to have more significant impact on the collection plate. This means that alongside a long road to job recovery for the country, most parish jobs will be slow to come back, and some are unlikely to come back at all.

While payroll is an ongoing cash obligation for most parishes, building maintenance is an ever-looming parish liability that, many pastors know, can quickly become expensive.

Parishes tend to spend what they have to do the ministry in front of them. Except in dioceses where building maintenance is regularly audited, or when pastors are especially zealous, routine maintenance on old buildings is often delayed or neglected. Few parishes account for depreciation. When something breaks, the cost is high. And with dramatically decreased collections this year, what little maintenance might have been done is likely to be deferred.

When boilers breaks or roofs starts leaking, parishes will turn to their dioceses for help.

Indeed, many U.S. dioceses have already begun looking for ways to provide emergency cash grants to parishes with immediate need. That need includes emergencies, but in some places, it also includes payroll assistance, and loan repayments for outside construction loans. Those cash grants are a hit to diocesan cash reserves, which, in many places, are themselves already insufficient.

Meanwhile, dioceses are, like parishes, anticipating significant revenue reductions in the current quarter and in the next fiscal year. Dioceses are funded through taxes or assessments, which are sometimes linked to annual appeals, in addition to the earnings from investment portfolios, real estate holdings, and endowments or foundations. Some cash is unrestricted, but some may be spent only on certain things. Some dioceses also charge parishes fees for some shared services, though in other places no such fees are assessed.

Also like parishes, dioceses across the country have begun announcing layoffs and furloughs. But those measures may not be enough. Several dioceses have announced the end of their diocesan newspapers, reduction in priest salaries, or begun passing on a greater share of healthcare costs to employees.

If, as projected, the economic downturn is long-lasting, there will be other measures- Dioceses are likely to halt all renovation projects or new constructions, sell off properties, shutter ministry centers, and neglect long-term obligations, including self-funded priest pension plans, many of which are already underfunded. Some of those measures simply pass the costs of the present into the future; they will need eventually to be paid.

Many dioceses operate small savings-and-loan operations, in which parishes can deposit their savings and earn interest, and cash can be loaned to other parishes for construction or renovation. If parishes pull their cash reserves, dioceses will halt loans. If they halt loans, they’ll also have difficulty paying interest on deposits, and parishes will be less likely to put new money on deposit.

The mutual aid of non-profit savings-and-loan will likely dry up, and future parish projects will require bank loans, at far higher interest rates, and under much harsher terms. There will be simply fewer of those projects permitted.

Large Church projects coordinated at the diocesan level are mostly funded through the gifts of major donors. Those donors have lost considerable portions of their wealth amid market volatility. The loss of their benificence will impact school scholarship funds, seminary formation, and ministry to the poor, along with campaigns to meet the underfunded pension or construction liabilities of previous decades.

Not all dioceses will be impacted equally, but several have already begun announcing the layoffs and closures that signal their financial positions.

As dioceses find themselves increasingly strapped, many bishops will become, almost certainly, less eager to send money to the bishops’ conference in Washington, DC.

In January, the U.S. bishops approved an increase on the amount of money they must send to the USCCB – but barely. The measure, similar to one passed in 2017, barely got the two-thirds majority it required, something conference officials attributed to the financial challenges and giving downturn of the 2018 sexual abuse scandal.

But in November 2019, Archbishop Charles Chaput offered another objection to increasing funding to the USCCB. “I don’t think that some of the work of the USCCB is essential to the mission of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” he said.

With diocesan revenues on the decline, the conference can surely expect to see its unrestricted revenues drop, considerably, and to see more bishops raise questions about whether the offices of the USCCB are providing a meaningful return for the Catholics in their pews.

While the USCCB has given no indication of its financial situation, some conference staffers tell CNA they are expecting a round of layoffs.

In short, from parish to conference, the Church in the U.S. should expect to see significant reductions in staff in months to come, and a long road to rehiring. Maintaining properties will become more difficult for the Church, and meeting debt and other long-term obligations will also become a challenge.

The economic downturn likely forecasts more diocesan bankruptcies, the closure and sale of parish and diocesan properties, a financially poorer presbyterate, and considerably smaller ministry staffs at every level. What those things mean for the future of the Church is a matter of perspective.

Few will be glad to see ministry professionals lose their livelihoods, or to see the families of Church workers face uncertain futures. Few will be glad to see churches paid for by past generations fall into disrepair or be sold. Few will be glad to see retreat centers or schools shuttered.

Some will likely praise the winnowing of the Church’s bureaucratic class. But those with day-to-day experience of ministry professionals will acknowledge, even while criticizing a tendency towards bureacratic bloat, that the individuals who fill Church positions usually do so because of a desire to serve Christ and the People of God, and usually do so after ample investment in their own education for ministry.

Nevertheless, barring some dramatic change in forecasts, those things seem practically inevitable.

They will require a new way of living the Church’s life, or the rediscovery of old ways.

A poorer U.S. church, even one made poor through tragedy, might find that it meets the vision of Pope Francis’ hope of a “poor Church for the poor.”

Such a Church will require more Catholics to take personal responsibility for the mission of the parish, the diocese, and, ultimately, the Gospel.

The downturn may well occasion a rise in the prominence and influence of ecclesial movements, whose lay members generally give far more time than other Catholics to missionary work, and often with more evangelical fervor. It may also occasion the emergence of small tight-knit faith communities within parishes, who meet regularly in homes, rather than in large parish events. It might even occasion a rise in the frequency of catechesis undertaken mostly at home, by parents themselves.

The downturn might also occasion a new zeal, and opportunity, for evangelization, as people shaken by the pandemic and its aftershocks find themselves looking for meaning. That evangelization will likely be undertaken organically, which is say to cheaply, rather than by professional initiatives driven by expensive and time-consuming pastoral plans.

None of those things are new, but all of them might seem like novelties in the months to come. But whether bishops will encourage embracing a new way of seeing the Christian vocation, or instead try to get back to “business as usual,” remains to be seen.

The U.S. is facing an unprecedented time in its history. But the Church is not: she has faced plagues, pandemics, and depressions before.

This pandemic, and the economy, will disrupt the typical parish experience of American Catholics for a long time to come. But bishops might just begin to look to the Church’s past, to articulate a vision of hope for her future.


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45 Comments

  1. On top of the incompetence of most of our bishops in handling the sexual abuse scandal, you can add to the laiety’s diminished funding for various parishes and dioceses, the overt political positions taken by the Bishop or clergy. The social justice mantra is worn out. America is not racist or evil. To morally equate climate change and abortion; to demonize wealthy people because they worked hard and saved for their retirement, etc, does not sit well with faithful Catholics who are tired of the political suggestions that we should somehow overlook the evil of abortion and vote for Democrats. The church, like the rest of us, will have to struggle to pay it’s bills and figure out a way to move forward.

    • “since the 2018 sexual abuse scandal”? Is that a misstatement? Most Catholics agree that the priest pedophile “pandemic” began many decades before, if not for centuries earlier.
      Adam uses an intriguing political connection of the dots between abortion and Democrats. That diatribe will certainly fail to make any move forward! My Mother, a staunch “right-to-life” Catholic Democrat, would quickly dash those dots. Moving on…
      I am in my 80s and was born in a strong Irish Catholic family. Our parish was an integral part of our lives. Mom was always involved with ladies groups, did the linen and encouraged both my brother Bob and me to become acolytes. We served under several priests. Later, I became a lecture, (men only please). Because of the small size of the parish, approx 150 and mostly poor whites, tithing was crucial. Many years later, after we were married and raising a family, our family was shocked to hear that the Holy Name Church was “sold” to an artist colony. We feel that was when the hot iron struck. Our Catholic faith was changing. After spending much effort researching the nightmare of “sins of the fathers”, we were shaken to find that our honored church leaders had committed a mortal sin. The disgraceful sin of cover up! Our faith in our church leaders stopped. We had now become CINOs on a mission to regain our connection with Christ. As time passed discoveries of cleric pedophilia became rampant. One particularly egregious was the transfer of a Mexico City diocese priest rapist by Cardinal Norberto Carrera to the LA diocese under Cardinal Roger Mahoney. On Sept. 21. A civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Sept. 19, accuses Rivera and Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles with conspiring to protect a Mexican priest accused of molesting boys. That magnanimously sinful multi-child lawsuit was dismissed by the court stating that the “statute of limitations” had expired!!! WOW. To hell with the ignominious pain felt by the young boys who will suffer without any statute to help mitigate the anguish! It remains truly mystifying how compartmentalized and traumatized the faithful must be to continue to genuflect before those hierarchy still potentially complicit.
      Some TV ads say “come home”. I ask, who can come home when it has a leaking roof!

      • And I’m sure that Trump somehow had something to do with everything you mention in your post, right? You left that part out this time.

        • You are right, Athanasius. Trump must follow his supporter’s star and is self destructing as we speak. Carry on!

      • The 2018 abuse scandal was a terrible blow because many people had thought that the evil had been dealt with, only to find that they had been betrayed by some of their leaders.

        “My Mother, a staunch “right-to-life” Catholic Democrat, would quickly dash those dots.”

        I do not understand how a “right-to-life” Catholic Democrat can vote for a party that is pro-abortion and is doing its best to eliminate anybody who is pro-life from its ranks.

        “those hierarchy still potentially complicit.”

        Potentially? I see, so you condemn all of them because it’s possible that any given one of them might have concealed, or committed, abuse.

        “Some TV ads say “come home”. I ask, who can come home when it has a leaking roof!”

        Then you work to fix the roof, rather than sulking outside in a lashing storm preening yourself on how virtuous you are.

        • OK, Leslie, (M/F?). I must respond if not only for my Mom. My Irish Rose mother was never politically vindictive. When she and dad guided my through my formative years there was no front page cover about abortion. The only issue was with Ruth the parish secretary who became pregnant out of wedlock. In order to prevent the churchgoers and the priest from discovering her plight Ruth used some type of corset tightened around her bump. Her only other problem was being accepted back in her job and church when she announced the birth. Surprisingly, after her exit from the Catholic “penance” closet with her new bay, she was surrounded by all of her friends and Father Claude, her boss. Everything seemed great, but the sad part was yet to be told. Her baby Marty, in later years became one of my best friends. Seemingly, due to the prenatal suppressions
          Marty’s head was disfigured. Marty was so smart, lighthearted and kind that many would become his friend by the end of the day. Marty married and had three beautiful children. Our friendship continued to when Marty introduced me to my to be beautiful new wife Carolyn. Not until Carolyn and I were married did he announce that she was his cousin. WOW. And, we finally turned the page.

          • I have no idea what your story is supposed to be about. Are you saying that it would have been better if Ruth had been able to abort your smart, lighthearted, and kind friend?

            And what does your wife’s being his cousin have to do with anything?

        • Leaky roof ain’t the primary issue. One must first chase away or otherwise decisively deal with the foul bests who took charge of it while were out.

          If we don’t deal with that infestation first, we will have roof over our head, but our children will still be devoured one by one at night…

          Until that happens, neither the USCCB, nor my local Diocese of Joliet will see a wooden nickel from me, and many like me. Peter ain’t gonna see his Pence this year, either, until a pope is elected who affirms that God IS essential!

      • Most Catholics agree that the priest pedophile(sic) “pandemic” began many decades before, if not for centuries earlier.

        80+ years old and you still haven’t learned that the overwhelming majority of sexual deviants masquerading as Priests; ~90%, are homosexual ephebophiles not pedophiles.

        • A most mean-spirited reply.
          And stupid.
          Wickipedia says Ephebophilias are attracted to boys 15-19. I can assure you that the vast majority of Catholics would NOT be interested in learning the fine difference between Pedophilia or Ephebophilia, nor the finer difference associated with serious damage of actions resulting from these deviancies; 80+ years notwithstanding.

          • How was that mean spirited? It is a true statement. Most homosexuals prey on the youth. Vast majority of them. Instead of delving into what the age cutoff for each subdeviant group is, we should figure out how to rid the ranks of priests of deviants, period.

          • Not to endorse sexual predation, especially among those from who we expect better things, but there really is a huge difference between sexual opportunism and sexual deviancy that exclusively targets very young children. True pedophiles are far less common than the opportunists who prey upon anyone over puberty. That sort of behavior isn’t unique to the clergy nor to homosexuals.

  2. The solution is actually pretty simple, although not easy to implement. It is only necessary to find a financially feasible and ethical way to implement Catholic social teaching and restore the ordinary person’s ability to lead a productive life. This does not mean the distortions forced onto the interpretation of CST by modernists, socialists, and other adherents of the “new things,” but a personalist, natural law approach. One possibility can be found here:
    https://www.cesj.org/just-third-way-feature/universalizing-capital-ownership-how-article-17-of-the-universal-declaration-of-human-rights-can-save-the-economy/

    • “…simple, but not easy to implement” [!].

      I first heard, a bit late, about the cited “one possibility” from the Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ), at a presentation to the 1994 annual meeting of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS) conducted at Franciscan University.

      Very intriguing, and radical in the best sense of the word, but I haven’t kept up. I do recall that the KEY CONCERN raised at the time was the dependence of entire architecture of dispersed capital ownership (e.g., Employee Stock Ownership Plans, ESOPs) upon loan guarantees from the central government . . . in a fallen world, a possible Achilles heel?

      A SECOND CONCERN might be with the proposed replacement of all current/ fragmentary tax structures (VAT, property tax, income tax, user fees, etc.) with a flat income tax (above a threshold income exemption sufficient for family self-responsibility), all for greater transparency in government. Ironically, would this simplification/centralizing (?) also jeopardize Subsidiarity—since the separate levels of government (local, state, federal) rely somewhat accountably on these different sources of taxation?

      In short, Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is always still distinct from any “third way.” CST is neither an ideology nor a blended ideology, but rather is rooted instead in “moral theology”—also the clear starting point for the CESJ.

      Thank you, Michael, for highlighting a “personalist, natural law approach” and recommending the concrete makeover explored by the CESJ.

      • Thanks for the comments. I was not present at the Steubenville event, and my recollection is that Dr. Norman Kurland who spoke had an emergency that forced him to leave suddenly, so he wouldn’t have been able to answer questions at that time. He is, however, available now and can be reached via the contact information on the CESJ website. I could respond to the issues you raise here, but this isn’t really suited for a satisfying discussion (answers tend to raise other questions as you know). I can assure you Norm will be pleased to talk to you (and any others who have concerns about what I commented). He can be reached by phone using the number on the website, or you can arrange to call using the website contact email: http://www.cesj.org

  3. “In short, even when people can actually go to Mass, the margins in most parishes are thin.”
    .
    Then perhaps it is time for the USCCB to disband and for Rome to start redistributing its wealth back to the parishes, or at least stop with the endless meetings and synods and jet setting.

  4. Catholics might be a lot more willing to donate if the monies weren’t going to immoral programs supported by CCHD/CRS or to pay for Bishops’ stupidity in ordaining homosexuals who wind up sexually molesting young adolescent boys. Clear same-sex-attracted persons out of the clergy and religious communities, cut off the CCHD/CRS financially and instead support truly Catholic charities so that the laity can know that their donations to the church do not make them complicit in very grave sins. Oh, last but not least, assert the right and duty of the Catholic Church to hold public Mass and administer all of the sacraments as essential services during pandemics / epidemics even if some bishops and clergy thereby risk arrest.

  5. The place to start downsizing is at the top: the quarterly USCCB meetings in Baltimore are hugely expensive and noticeably fruitless. When the bishops themselves set a good example by divesting themselves of huge homes, routine travel, etc., when their shoes need mending, the faithful will notice and will dig deep. When our priests spend a daily Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament instead of just telling their people to do it, the faithful will respond. When the Bishops become a living example of ‘poor in spirit’, and speak to the faithful of heaven, hell, eternity, the unspeakable evil of abortion which is now the embodiment of that ‘banality of evil’, the faithful will support their priests and parishes unstintingly. Remember that our most beautiful churches were built and funded by the poorest of the poor in the past two centuries. These same poor faithful who could often not read or write but who fasted before Holy Communion and on Fridays, who observed 3 hours of silence on Good Friday, who lived their faith in simplicity and trust — they are the builders and supporters of the Faith that has been passed down to us into the 21st century while we have fattened ourselves at the golden calf of prosperity. Show us, Bishops, that you have not lost your Faith! Show us, Pastors, that you are more than Administrators and that the tired paraphrasing of the Gospels in your dispiriting and uninspired homilies are not a measure of your lukewarm faith. Show us your love of Christ! Then we will give and give abundantly.
    As we always have.

  6. Mary Kiely :” Remember that our most beautiful churches were built and funded by the poorest of the poor in the past two centuries. These same poor faithful who could often not read or write but who fasted before Holy Communion and on Fridays, who observed 3 hours of silence on Good Friday, who lived their faith in simplicity and trust …”
    ********
    Yup. Some of my ancestors were illiterate too but they could follow Church teaching, knew their catechism by heart & supported & built beautiful parish churches-some of which the powers that be have now sold for random secular use.

  7. Being a bureaucrat is not “ministry.” Bureaucracy merely upholds the top-down power structure that strangles the freedom and initiative of local ecclesial communities. “You must take these classes from the diocese to be a certified catechist, or you must have this degree to become a bureaucrat in the diocese.” There is no questioning by the faithful of whether those standards are appropriate allowed. It’s all left to the “expertise” of unaccountable “experts” accountable only to the bishop and the bureaucracy, not to the people.

    “Such a Church will require more Catholics to take personal responsibility for the mission of the parish, the diocese, and, ultimately, the Gospel.”

    I would welcome the conflict that results, but the culture of clericalism, “niceness,” and feminism will never allow this sort of Christian freedom to be exercised by men.

    • While the following remarks might not satisfy, they are offered in the interest of greater, what’s that word again, oh yes, dialogue. You write: “It’s all left to the ‘expertise’ of unaccountable ‘experts’ accountable only to the bishop and the bureaucracy, not to the people.”

      What if the shoe is on the other foot?

      What if it’s really about precise fidelity to the “deposit of faith” given by Christ, and therefore assured through the Apostolic Succession in step with the indwelling Spirit, and therefore the duty [an underused word!] of the bishop toward the people, unless he abdicates? That is, in collegial unity with the universal and perennial Church—in this case: certification of catechists.

      Just a thought…St. John Paul II warned against “laicization of the clergy” AND “clericalization of the laity”, both.

      Rather than the possibly new and constructive “conflict” you welcome, the greater likelihood might be the ramping up of something else already stale and not so new. What if the so-called “bureaucrats” are not all inside the chancery? Some would even point to Saul Alinsky malcontents who are quite adept at manipulating “the people.”

      • The bishop does have a duty to the people, so who is going to call him out when he fails? And who will enforce consequences upon him? If he decides for example to deliberately set himself against the universal observance of the Church (and I don’t mean just the patriarchate of Rome) and prohibit the celebration of Masses ad orientem. And when the people protest, he will mistakenly appeal to his own authority and some document from Rome. What then?

        Who doubts that the bishops have a duty to God and their flocks? The question is what is to be done when they fail in their duty, either by negligence or deliberate action.

        The heterodox already occupy positions in parishes and chanceries. They are rarely outsiders to power. The conflict to which I refer is when they are challenged in their promotion of the heterodoxy.

        • You ask, “what then”? Here are three non-authoritative thoughts:

          The FIRST is responsible and constructive media coverage, as one finds on these pages. The challenges are larger than any one embedded chancery staff or any one termite colony outside the chancery.

          The SECOND, as back in the day and for example, were those of us who taught parish Confirmation classes using solid texts curiously missing from the chancery “approved” list. This was before the Catechism was requested by an extraordinary synod of bishops (1985) and then published (1994/7). A shared and big win for both laity and clergy.

          And THIRD, (now of mostly archeological interest), because of multiple allegations/ heterodoxies a unique episode came to pass (a biblical expression!) in my archdiocese. The results included a Visitation initiated by Rome, corrective instructions from the papal nuncio, a supervisory triumvirate of brother archbishops, then an auxiliary bishop with special powers, later a co-adjutor archbishop with right of succession, and then an early retirement. Not a pretty picture, and not likely to be repeated. In the mix, I was told at the time, was an ecclesial lawsuit funded and submitted to Rome by a layman (!) (RIP), under a provision in the new 1983 Code of Canon Law.

          One TAKE-AWAY: laity may always write a letter to the Apostolic Nunciature—respectful and constructive in content and tone, informative and unifying (not Saul Alinski’s clever wedge: “we” and “they”), concise and documented. And after first bringing our concern to the alleged offender—is there something more than meets the eye? (Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nunciature to the United States, 3339 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington DC 20008).

          • “One TAKE-AWAY: laity may always write a letter to the Apostolic Nunciature—respectful and constructive in content and tone, informative and unifying”

            Orthodox Roman Catholics are going to need more than that with respect to ecclesial reform if they want to salvage what is left of their churches as collapse of the current political order proceeds. Writing to the Apostolic Nuncio about the bishop of Boise re: ad orientem or other bishops who uphold heresy like feminism is not unlikely to lead to any action being taken since the current bishop of Rome is committed to the same.

    • yes. I think we gave up on the church when we let the government take control of what the church used to do

  8. The drumbeat to demobilize the Bishops Conference began before the coronovirus epidemic and will grow louder and faster now in a Church of diminished resources. Faith built the Church and the churches, not any entanglement with the political order of the moment built on unsustainable debt and growing hostility to the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. The Church has survived empire after empire, kingdom after kingdom, and so it will be with an infinitely elastic constitution of faithless civil rights as well.

  9. The Church was facing a financial crisis long before the virus hit. This merely accelerates what was probably inevitable. Liquidating the utterly worthless USCCB would be a good move regardless of the financial impact. As for the lay professionals Mr. Flynn speaks of, I have never encounterd one at the diocesan level who did any good. On the other hand, sometimes a conservative parish pastor hires someone good to help with religious education.

    • Perhaps if we came together as a Catholic nation to pray for His forgiveness for our nation’s sin of abortion rather than allowing our government to dictate the closure of our churches and our leaders took the issue of our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion to the Supreme Court and the streets the epidemic might end and with it the financial problems. Bishops who in conspiracy with the government deny us the sacraments like confession in the name of bodily health over health of our souls should be expelled from their posts.

    • Credentialism and the “professionalization” of ministries is one of the institutional problems.

      For example many of the employees for the diocese of San Jose earned their degrees at the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University.

  10. I am actually really glad that our corrupt Church is being brought to its knees.

    Between false teaching from supposed shepherds and paying off victims of sexual abuse, perhaps a much poorer Church will once again discover she does not need much – only Christ.

  11. I was hoping the lack of donations would cause the Bishops to rethink their ending of the Sacraments. We need God and the Sacraments are the path that lead us to heaven. Bishops, give us back God and we’ll give you some money.

  12. For SOL May 8, 12:47 p.m.

    My recommendation was simply “one” take-away. This does not exclude others.

    Your earlier grievance, to which I specifically responded, was with an unnamed bishop and his staff. Now you bait-and-switch targets to the pope. Fine, it’s all very frustrating. However, one fringe benefit of actually composing a letter is that it enables/requires the writer to be precise.

    My own approach is simply to work at this. And to sign my name. As for the tribe: Go ahead, make my day, or, when I’m shown to be wrong, I’ll fix it. I am most grateful for this CWR website to be able to learn and contribute voluntarily to our Church in this small way—-as a non-credentialed but reasonably informed layman in the trenches (time, and talent sometimes maybe; since I have no treasure). There are no silver bullets.

    Vaguely flagging ideological corruptions, such as “feminism” in some sense, is neither engaging nor effective. Nor is it even on-point when the more encompassing betrayal, in my opinion, is the copulating elephants in the living room—namely the invasive homosexual subculture/enablers and Freemasonry, both cross-dressed in clerical garb.

    And, incidentally, my one letter-writing experience with a former papal nuncio, done in the manner I suggest, came with artful and satisfying results.

  13. There is no bait and switch, merely pointing out liturgical abuses are tolerated by the patriarch of Rome and will unlikely lead to some sort of disciplinary action. Yours is a top-down hierarchy, despite movement in the Vatican II toward a greater appreciation of the sensus fidelium in safeguarding Tradition.
    “Vaguely flagging ideological corruptions, such as “feminism” in some sense, is neither engaging nor effective. Nor is it even on-point when the more encompassing betrayal, in my opinion, is the copulating elephants in the living room—namely the invasive homosexual subculture/enablers and Freemasonry, both cross-dressed in clerical garb.”

    The Lavender mafia is part and parcel of the same problem of clericalism which renders bishops unaccountable to their flocks when they promote feminism or SJW Gospel. Until there is reform that enables all Roman Catholics to do their duties in reforming their churches, your churches will continue to lose men and alienate others.

    • For purposes of discussion, am I really “top down”—or maybe just Augustinian? Your label “clericalism” itself comes from the very top. Consider this from St. Augustine:

      “But to return to the word ‘lust’. As lust for revenge is called anger, so lust for money is avarice, lust to win at any price is obstinacy, lust for bragging is vanity. And there are still many other kinds of lust, some with names and some without. For example, it would be difficult to find a specific name for that lust for domination (City of God, Book XIV, Ch. 15).

      Difficult to find a specific name for domination? To rebrand lust-infested institutions as mere “clericalism” is the epitome of clericalism! Such clericalism is a breed of viral lust, one of the seven capital sins.

      But, now clericalism is run up the flag pole, while it is said from on high that sexual sins are not the worst of the litter. Probably true theologically and even practically and culpably, but also a decoy to distract from the Lavender Mafia?

      What of Our Lady of Fatima who, at the eye-to-eye level, warned that “more souls go to hell over sins of the flesh than any other.” Didn’t say much about the cover story of (mutant) clericalism. Oh, what a tangled web we weave..

      Peace. Yes, all “part and parcel.” We are on the same page.

  14. I appreciate the Comments section, it makes me realize I’m not alone; there are many of us. And there must be many more who read, nod their heads, but do not add their feelings and thoughts in reply. Wasn’t it JPII that told us that we were destined to be a smaller church? The word ‘orthodox’ comes to mind.

  15. “By most estimates, that amount has been on the decline since the 2018 sexual abuse scandal, which has prompted widespread frustration with bishops among active Catholics.”

    Frustration? You can say that again. I’ve seen no progress on this issue since the sordid life of Cardinal McCarrick was revealed that summer…and I haven’t tithed a penny to the Church since then. Prior to that I averaged $2,000 per year.

    I’ve communicated with my parish priest, my archbishop (and his recent replacement), and the USCCB president about this issue. I’ve heard nothing but “crickets”.

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