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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How is Your Diocese Sharing Lent?

I was really pleased to read in a letter from His Excellency this Sunday that our Bishop Michael Mulhall of Pembroke seems to have completely cut off Development and Peace this Lent. I have not been following all this stuff too closely, but he seems to have been pretty consistent with this over the last few years. (Correct me if I am wrong!) His strong stance should come as no surprise, I suppose, as he is one of the 'slices of meat' in the middle of the Central Ontario episcopal focaccia bun of Cardinal Collins and Archbishop Prendergast, both of whom have taken very strong positions vis a vis D & P.

My question is, how is your diocese living the Gospel of Life this Lent with respect to its distribution of the faithful's money?

(I'll understand if you folks from Edmonton don't want to participate...)


  1. Are you poking fun at us folks from Edmonton?? It's one thing for Bishops to distance themselves from CCODP, but it's another for them to leave a big gap when they could be promoting other groups/agencies that Catholics can support with our Lenten alms. Our daughters have raised money for the Share Lent Thinkfast! for the past five years... and will again this year, or should they now support World Vision's 30 Hour Famine or some other agency whose stance on abortion is even further from CCODP's misstep? If Bishops want to cut off CCODP, fine, but what are they offering in its stead to educate young people, all people, really, about the need for social justice not only during Lent, but all year round? If they're going to pull one program, how about putting money where mouths are to set another in place? I have yet to hear of anything in the Canadian Catholic realm that has replaced the mostly good work done by CCODP (though most of my alms this year will go to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate).

  2. Yes, I am making fun of you Edmonton folks, etc...

    Your points are very good ones, Maria. I know that in the case of Pembroke the bishop has chosen some really good causes to direct our money and our hearts. The dioceses that have stopped channelling money to D & P have targeted some other very worthwhile agencies. This is great! It's not that D & P is 100% reprehensible. I'm sure most of the money is being very well spent. However, we can't say that justifies how the other part is being spent. We have a duty to the full good. And things seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. D & P will get back on the 100% right track, but I doubt that will be with the current staff. The CCCB seems very reluctant to realize this.

  3. Maria: Our Pembroke Diocese has twinned itself with Lima, Peru. (It was an initiative of your current Ordinary when he was here.) The funds are going there and to another Catholic charity that funds first responders for emergencies and disasters around the globe. Whereas WV and CCODP donations intended for aid to the world's poor gets stripped to pay for high overhead and administration/promotion costs, 100% of the donations raised by the Diocese are going directly to aid for the poor.

    Certainly much more of each donation is now actually accomplishes what it was intend for than was the case before.

    Fr. Tim Moyle
    Mattawa, Ontario

  4. It seems that our Ordinary is satisfied with the changes being made within CCODP... and until another Catholic social justice based group comes up with an excellent program like ThinkFast (which is easily run by teens for teens) our school will continue with it. I'm guessing we'll all end up on the same page in the end, but as you say, Colin, it will take time.

  5. Until D&P has a complete overhaul, I will not contribute one dime directly or indirectly -- I will continue shouting against them as loud as I can. Here is a Catholic organization based in Nova Scotia, which is probably the most wonderful contribution of the Halifax Archdiocese to the world. It is true to the Church and exceptionally well managed. Highest Salary is 31k. Check the money sense magazine rating and the percentage of each dollar which goes to programs. May Abundant Blessings be upon all here for a blessed Lenten observance.

  6. Chalice has great programs for Cdn kids. Our school sponsors a child.

    Very Catholic-faithful!

    And it wins awards from secular organizations for its efficiency etc

  7. Hi Colin,

    I just discovered your very informative blog. What a wonderful service you're providing for the Catholic community online and for all those who visit the site! Sometimes it can be pretty lonely work writing, editing and posting. So it's encouraging to see that there are dozens of fellow bloggers united in spreading the Word. Thank you for taking your effort to evangelize beyond the classroom and into cyberspace. I also salute all the other bloggers for their work. I now feel part of a larger family. May God bless you all!

  8. It might interest readers to discover where some of your money goes. Just yesterday I came across an article featured on Richard Sipe's website that is simply astounding. The slide show 'The Cost of Looking Good'
    reminded me of the recent appointment of 22 new Cardinals. Catholics ought to be made aware of such extravagance which completely runs counter to everything that Jesus ever represented. Watch it if you dare[2].pdf

    As a Catholic convert and regular blogger I have discovered that Catholicism today has turned inward at the expense of those it serves. That's why I named my blog

  9. The Church isn't simply a charity. It's first of all the instrument of God's salvation. Salvation importantly involves love of neighbour. While we shouldn't get caught up in trappings, because of how we are made those trappings help to convey to us God's mind.

    1. This isn’t about charity it is about the preferential option for the poor which was one of the basic principles of the Catholic social teaching. As a theologian where did you get the idea that these extravagant trappings of the Church are part of God’s salvation and that they help to convey to us God’s mind? What god are you speaking of? Should we ignore World Vision estimates that 1 in 9 children live in poverty in Canada because it is part of God's salvation?

    2. I didn't refer to 'extravagant' trappings, just trappings.
      The sensual dimension of sacramental life is essential for the human learning process. Even Aristotle would agree: all knowledge comes by way of the senses. People are not robots; they learn through feeling too. That's why the liturgy makes sense. The liturgy is a gift from God, a blessing; it has raised up for the world 2000 years of saints. There are very few secular saints, despite what the world would like to believe. The difference: Catholics are motivated by grace, and taught so well by the liturgy.

    3. I didn’t realize ‘trappings’ had various levels. At which point should we (dis)approve of them? Jesus met people where they were not where others would have them be. His exchange with people had nothing to do with liturgy, stained glass windows, wax candles, or priests in lavish and extravagant dress.
      In fact, Jesus a Jew, who was not Catholic only focussed on the person's inner sense not the outer or exterior self. Liturgy, in this sense, may help us move us forward but it is not the destination. To suggest that the Catholic Church survived 2000 years for the purpose of creating various saints merely confirms my original position that the Church has turned completely inward at the expense of those it was called to serve. Like Jesus’ disciples there appear still many in the Church who would argue who is the greatest among us?

  10. Sure there are degrees. Ought one to have no furniture in ones house, no pictures on the wall, no paint; should one never change his clothes, shower, comb his hair, eat anything but the most basic food? If we adorn our houses and the temples of our bodies, why not the House of God?

    Further, how does making a place for liturgical trappings have anything to do with failing to meet people where they are? The saintliest people in history have had simultaneously the deepest devotion to the poor and the Holy Mass; they had one because they had the other. How need one come only at the cost of the other?

    And, how does Jesus' being a Jew and not Catholic mean that He was more accepting of people? Is that meant to be racist - that only Jews can be charitable?

    Again, how is the cult of the saints inwardly focused? If you study, say, the history of hospitals in any Christian country you will see that they were more often than not created by saintly religious people, not by very handsomely paid government employees and doctors like nowadays.

    I have a distinct feeling that you have bought into some anti-Christian propaganda. Imagine!

  11. Reasonable discussions combined with an inviting demeanor usually do not suggest that someone is desperately trying to defend the indefensible. Surely you understand the difference between basics and excesses? There would be few Catholics today who not find spending more than $ 30,000 (or even a 10th of that) on ecclesiasticalfinary one bishop extremely excessive!
    Those familiar with the Gospel will immediately recognize the obvious dichotomy behind this kind of excessive behaviour and Jesus’ concern for the poor. This was clearly recognized by one our Church’s greatest saints St. Francis.
    It is time for Church to return to a humbler position as true followers of Jesus. Secrecy about such matters and cover-ups do very little for the credibility of the Church. The minute we hear that one of those bishops donated his $ 30,000 + gilded attire to charity the poor (who are the real treasures of the Church) may embrace the church once again.
    The concept of ‘the preferential option for the poor’, which is not an opton is now enshrined in Catholic social teaching
    I suspect that for most religious followers the idea of a religion without a central place of worship (institutional building) is completely unthinkable. Yet, scripture tells us that God never intended that we should build such structures. According to Fr. Scott Lewis associate professor of New Testament at Regis College (Canada) that seems precisely the case. In his weekly column of the Catholic Register he provides the following reflection on the readings for Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 18 he tells us “The idea of building a house for God seems rather preposterous. In the verses omitted from the lectionary reading, God tells David in no uncertain terms that he is out of line.”
    Again Fr. Lewis adds “God’s home and the only fitting dwelling or house that we can provide for God is the human heart. We should be very cautious of attempting to confine, localize or domesticate God in any way. God is at work in ways that we have not even imagined — far better to be God’s instrument rather than God’s consultant.”
    In several other verses to Chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians we are reminded that ‘we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building’ and then asked ‘do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
    In subsequent verses, also omitted from the usual lectionary readings, warnings against building a house of religion is expressed in even more surprising and dramatic terms: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Cor. 3: 10-15)
    So, let us come together and speak out against the excesses spoken of if we follow ‘the fundamental option of the poor’!
    Finally, propaganda is usually associated with falsehoods there is nothing false about these excesses. It may surprise you that in 1986 I converted to Catholicism.

  12. I have a problem with anyone's clothing costing 30 grand; perhaps we can quibble over the 3 grand. My whole wardrobe does not tally that high, but I don't much care for clothing. My vice is books.

    David might have been out of line, but Solomon was not. He was instructed by God to build the Temple.

  13. and what happened to that temple? However the whole point of this discussion is about excesses within the Church and if that doesn't set off a few alarm bells, then . . . . (I will let you finish to sentence}.
    Maybe its time to donate to help refurbish the new Crystal Cathedral.

  14. What happened to the Temple? No exegete I have read would say it was destroyed because God does not like Temples dedicated to Him.

    As for your more general point, we have to observe that beauty is itself a blessing upon man, a divine kindness. God has made the world beautiful, and it stands to reason that so should we. Take, for instance, Stalin-era buildings - endless tracts of utilitarian structures that, yes, housed those requiring housing, but in a way that was, frankly, dehumanizing. Man requires beauty and meaning just as much as he requires food. These cathedrals are gifts to the world as much as they are acts of faith.