Canon Law – Legal Bishops’ Use of The Faithful’s Money

Some years ago I was at a parish that had a “capital campaign” to raise money to build a new multi-million dollar education building. The faithful were shown the survey of the land to be purchased onand drawings of the new building. Once the money was raised, I was told that there was a directive from powers beyond the parish level that the parish must use the money to build a new church, not an education building. I raised the issue that the money had been collected for an education building. I said that my family and others had been defrauded. Promptly a representative of the parish finance council contacted me and said that, if I wanted, our donated money would be refunded. I found out that, under canon law, money collected for one purpose cannot then be used for another purpose. (As an aside, the new church building was built, and, some years later, God flooded it, completely). I was then asked by the pastor personally to leave the parish. Since it was not his, I stayed.

Canon law – the Church’s own law – says this:

“Canon 1267, §3: Offerings given by the faithful for a specified purpose may be used only for that purpose.”

“Canon 1300: The intentions of the faithful who give or leave goods to pious causes . . . are to be most carefully observed, even in the manner of the administration and the expending of the goods . . . . “

I am unaware of any “Capital Campaign To Raise Money To Pay Off Sexual Assault Victims Of Priests & Bishops” in any parish or diocese in America; of a “Pay For Priest & Prelate Predators Campaign,” or of a fundraiser “For The Pastoral Malpractice Of Bishops Who Enabled, Fostered , And Shuttled Abusers & Criminals.” In short, I am aware of no Catholic in the USA who donated money for the bishops to use to pay off claims against the Church and against them. It would be very surprising if, court-sealed, secret settlement documents do not include the provisions that all claims against the bishops personally are also settled, and ended, by the agreements.

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Editor’s note: Carefully check your parish’s annual financial accounting summary and pay special attention to any and all insurance costs listed therein, especially for health care, disability, workmen’s compensation and similar items. It’s very likely that you will find these costs to be anywhere from thirty to fifty percent higher than they should be, since many parishes are forced to pay a silent “tax” in order to refill the coffers of the dioceses’ “secret insurance fund” used to help pay off past settlements or to prepare for future settlements.   

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“The blowtorch directed at the Church on this (abuse) issue reveals something unhealthy about society around us.”

The statistics are scattered about, but not hard to find. Professor Charol Shakeshaft of Virginia University studied 290,000 cases of alleged abuse in the ten years between 1991 and 2000. Out of a sample of 225 teachers who admitted to sexually abusing a pupil, not a single case was reported to the authorities.

Yet the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study of 2004 – independent auditors commissioned by the US bishops — found 10,667 people who made allegations about sexual abuse by priests and religious in the 52 years between 1950 and 2002 (roughly 200 a year compared to the 29,000 a year in public schools). The allegations were made against 4,392 priests, of whom 56 per cent were accused of only a single incident, some of which were never proved.

As a result of the Dallas norms introduced by the US Catholic Church in 2002, last year the entire Catholic Church in the US – which has 65m members – received six contemporary allegations of clerical abuse. In the UK, where the Nolan Report of 2001 led to strict guidelines, the Catholic Church is unique among institutions for making public each year the number of allegations of sexual abuse by priests. For 2007 the number of such contemporary allegations was precisely four for the whole of the UK – in a Church of about 5m.

At least in the UK and the US we can now state with confidence that the Catholic Church in the UK is one of the safest environments for children and young people.

Who else can claim this?

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