Money gives power; it can give life and take it away: dangerous, but there are few who dislike its possession; we give our full attention to its search. In a capitalistic society, this is easy to understand.
These are the introductory remarks in an article in the Peace Weekly about money. Without money, life can be shabby and uncomfortable. In a capitalistic society, poverty is looked upon as a sin but money can end up being the master and we its slave.
In the church, money is also important. There are all kinds of reasons we give money to the church. Many are the names we use for the different offerings: asking for blessings, in thanksgiving for blessings received. Since the Christian community is composed of human beings, there is a need for money. Not only the need for running and maintenance of facilities but also planning for the future. Money is needed for many reasons, a natural outcome of a community's need to help others. How it is raised is important.
Many dioceses, religious orders, and groups need money to continue their apostolic works. Many of their programs also bring in money. They are a means of income: schools, hospitals, and welfare works. Many others do the same work as the church in society, but the church has a different value system, and has to be careful not to imitate what we have in society.
To prevent this from happening the church has to be alert to the dangers we have in following the methods of the capitalistic system. We need to follow our principles, and our traditional attitudes must be clear. In hospital work the need is to help the sick. We do have simple hospital facilities that are only concerned for the sick and poor, but they are few.
Many of our hospitals are large, and the numbers continue to grow. They are getting larger, and the columnist wonders whether they are mirroring the Catholic method of what care for the sick should mean. There are many reasons for the problem, and one of them is the need for money to exist. The competition among the hospitals is intense, and the fear of falling behind is present, but here the columnist has a problem: why the fear?
Since the way of the world is to make money the church should especially be conscious of this reality and operate differently. People have to come first before the money, and to keep in mind the gospel message. This is not always an easy task but one that is required by the calling we have received.