Friday, April 20, 2012

Money and Church Attendance

Some years ago a priest, writing in a pastoral bulletin, attended  a village meeting of Catholics where a woman told a group of housewives what she told a neighbor about the expenses of going  to church. The neighbor wanted to know what the financial burden was for a family interested in going to church.

The woman explained all the possibilities: Sunday collections, monthly offerings, support for vocations, building fund, and so forth., but that it was all free will offerings; you give what you feel able to give, she made clear. The neighbor told her what she was giving, and that was the end of her interest in the church.

There are families that find it difficult to prepare the family with the necessary offerings each Sunday because of their limited income.  And when they attend they hear about the money that is needed, and this is stressful to many and makes going to church difficult.

One parish in the country levied each family 3,000 dollars for the building fund, which was the reason many stopped going to church. Money, the priest feels, is why many do not go to church.

The Church grew from the time of the persecution because of the poor that came into the Church.  After the Korean war it grew greatly, and for the most part because of the poor. There was not the pressure to give. However, the Church today, compared to that time, is rich and now the poor have been alienated.

In the West, half of the churches have been closed, and in many churches many of the seats are empty. First, it was the workers and the poor that left; after this the intelligentsia left. This is also happening in Korea, he says. Jesus had a special love for the poor and when we are not concerned with the poor, we are separating ourselves from Jesus.

It has been said by one of the dioceses that the reason for the money pressures on the Christians is the building programs. It is necessary to build because of the increase in the numbers but there are buildings that are large and luxurious, and some of them are not being used. It is a crime, the priest says, that this pain is being inflicted on the Christians.

The 50th anniversary of  many parishes and dioceses is being commemorated this year with building programs. In the Scriptures, the Jubilee Year was a year of liberation, freeing Christians from their many obligations; now the Jubilee year imposes more financial burdens, not giving joy but pain.  

Genghis Khan was a first class tactician when it came to leading his people, the priest said.  Better than thinking of plans to help the people, Genghis Khan said that it is wiser to take away some of the burdens they are presently struggling with. That would be more helpful than plans believed to be helpful.             

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