Q&A: Is Lack of Giving Having Impact in Right Place?

Q. This is a question for Father Walsh. I wonder if he would be able to clarify whether or not there is a specific stipend that each parish must send to the Archdiocese from their donations. If so, will a parish (and possibly parish school) indeed suffer because of a reduction in donations? I need to figure out if our purposeful lack of giving in the last few months has made an impact in the right (or wrong) place. Thank you.
– Jackie

A. Dear Jackie,

Thank you for your question.  I have had conversations about this topic with many people over the last few months, including the people in my own parish. Your concern for your parish is praiseworthy as is your desire to make a purposeful statement around your objections to the manner in which you believe the Archdiocese has handled cases of sexual abuse.

You are correct that each parish in the Archdiocese pays an “assessment” annually. The assessment is a percentage (roughly 10%) of the parish’s Sunday collection. The Archdiocese uses the money from the assessments to subsidize the Archdiocesan High Schools, fund Evangelization and Ministry to Youth and Young Adults, train the seminarians and deacons as well as to fund the other operating costs of the Archdiocese. It is also correct that the parish is liable to the Archdiocese for this annual assessment.

If a parish is unable to pay its assessment for some reason (perhaps decreased Sunday offerings or increased school deficits) the amount of the assessment becomes a liability to the Archdiocese which will need to be paid off at some point in the future. Thus, the withholding a tithe from your parish has a tremendous impact on your parish financial stability at many levels.
– Fr Chris Walsh

Father Chris Walsh is Pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Northwest Philadelphia. Prior to this assignment, he served as School Minister at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster and Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Father Chris is originally from West Chester and is a graduate of Temple University.  He firmly believes that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, even in these difficult days, and that the Catholic Church remains a true instrument of God’s grace in our broken world.

Editor’s note: This assessment is calculated every few years. So the percentage may not reflect current giving but is still enforced at the calculated amount.

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Bishops Offer Nothing More Than Weak Tweak

Bishops barely revise the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People despite clear need demonstrated in Philadelphia and other cities.

Read about it here:

“Bishops squandered opportunity, victims’ group says,” by Dan Morris-Young, The National Catholic Reporter, June 17, 2011

“Bishops Uphold Policy on Sex Abuse,” by Laurie Goodstein, The Boston Globe, June 17, 2001

“US Bishops Revise Guidelines Against Sex Abuse,” by CNN wire staff

“Bishops on abuse policy: Don’t we believe in forgiveness?” by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today, June 17, 2011

Cardinal Rigali on National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

“National Sexual Assault Awareness, Child Abuse Month,” by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia for The Catholic Standard and Times

The Cardinal writes: “The resurgence of news coverage concerning sexual abuse causes further pain. Every time there is a report of abuse it not only re-injures the victims, our parishioners are shaken by each disclosure, and it erodes the true image of the priesthood.”

Here’s an idea from C4C: Cardinal Rigali could ease the pain by fulfilling the recommendations of the 2011 Grand Jury Report. Doing this would cut down on abuse and media coverage. Doing this would restore our faith in Church Leadership and reinforce respect for priests.