Philip F. Lawler
Phil is the editor of, which brings you daily news headlines from a Catholic perspective. He is the author of The Faithful Departed, a history of the Church in Boston and the scandal of the abuse of children by priests.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

losing money, too

Rich Leonardi mentions Amy's review of Faithful Departed, so Google Alert dutifully called my attention to his post entitled "You can ignore? So can we." He isn't actually writing about the book, really, but he's making a point that should be familiar to any Faithful Departed reader. It's about the difficulty many pastors have in raising funds for their parishes. As Leonardi notes,

...stewardship, not to mention tithing, is predicated on fidelity. If priests and bishops aren't serious about Church teaching, should they really expect the laity to be serious about them?

If the pastor takes care of the essentials-- administering the sacraments, providing solid religious formation-- the fundraising should go smoothly, because parishioners will recognize the need to support the central mission of the Church. But if he concentrates on inessentials-- the bake sale, the ski trip, the parishioners lose sight of that central mission and consequently lose the sense that this should be a high-priority item in the family budget.

So oddly enough, if the pastor concentrates on fundraising and lets the sacramental life of the parish "run itself," he's likely to have trouble raising money. If he concentrates on the sacramental life and tosses in an occasional reminder about financial needs, he'll probably do well.

This is actually a different verse of the song I sing in Faithful Departed. There the issue is political influence. When the Church seeks influence first, and neglects spiritual matters, the net result is a loss first in spiritual vigor, and then consequently in political influence. When you take care of the essentials, the other things take care of themselves. Put inessentials first, and you don't only lose what's essential; you forfeit what's inessential too!


M. Alexander said...

Why is it that "losing money" seems to generate more action than losing souls?

Jerry Benitz said...

Every dime you give to your diocese says, "I'm OK with classroom sex-ed and effeminate priests." Rather, fund living parts of the Body to help them grow quickly.

M. Alexander said...

Well said Jerry. And a very tame comment from you as well ;). But I'm not complaining!

Diane K said...

I have not yet read your book and won't be able to get to it just yet, but want to comment on this post as it brought back a memory of one I made some time ago....

I think one of the best examples of a pastor who got a parish out of the red and into the black through fidelity and devotion, is that of Fr. Albert Lauer (rest in peace) as his story is depicted in the book, Priest - Portraits of Ten Good Men Serving the Church Today by Michael S. Rose. I reviewed that section of the book in this blogpost and would encourage anyone who doubts money flows where there is fidelity and devotion, to buy or borrow the book and read that chapter.