This Sunday was the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, complete with a friendly powerpoint presentation from our Bishop explaining where all the money went. I, of course, did not donate. To understand why requires some background:
In my area there are four churches. My church, the Church of the Annunciation, is a tiny wooden church that has been losing parishioners for over a decade. It is located in a small town about ten minutes away from me and just outside the city. We just celebrated, despite that, our 70th anniversary as a parish.
About ten or so minutes away, if that, is a much larger and fancier church, St. Mary’s. As mentioned, I live next to a small city that is nevertheless a city, and most of the Catholics there go to this Church. Next we have Sts. Peter and Paul, which is the local Eastern Catholic church. That one is so tiny as to be of no consequence.
The last one, the most relevant to my parish, is St. Phillip and James. This is another very large church, this time located in the inner city, and almost all of the area’s minorities go here. Pay attention to that last bit.
So the Bishop went on his typical spiel about where the money went – drug programs, charity, youth ministries, and…”diversity outreach”, or something like that.
Now consider this for a moment: My parish, located in a small town on the outskirts of the city, is dying, and has been for the past at least 15 years. What, exactly, does the Bishop have to say to us? What help is he offering us?
Apparently the future of the Church is brown people. Except that isn’t going to work with us. The town and the parishioners are predominantly white. The minorities in the area have their own Church. Why would they want to come here? Who could blame them if they decide not to?
Are we not welcoming enough? I mean, we have a filipino Priest and one of the most prominent volunteers in the Parish, to my understanding a Knight of Columbus, is a black gentleman. Do they not feel welcome here?
So our money is going to go to reach out to youth, reach out to “diverse cultures” or whatever you want to call it, and help drug addicts. None of these are inherently bad goals.
Aren’t we the Catholic Church? The universal Church? And, you know, a Church?
What about our message are we changing, exactly, to get minorities through the door? Isn’t our message universal? And what is the point of our charity? Charity is a noble and praiseworthy thing, but are our organizations also making an effort to preach the Gospel? Or are they turning the Church into a social institution designed to make up for all of the injustices supposedly heaped on minority communities, with the hope that will bring them through the door?
What if the money from the Diocesan appeal went directly to the Parishes to add more iconography and statues, to make the churches more beautiful? What if the Bishop said he was going to start a program to educate parishioners who wanted to learn on the Bible so they could teach it properly to their Parish? What if he tried to make sure there were Traditional Latin Masses said throughout the diocese?
And are we not a parish in his diocese? Will he simply abandon us as a lost cause because we’re not brown enough? Do we deserve to die for the sin of being in a white town? Will there be no effort put into growing OUR ranks?
With all due respect to my local Bishop, I would rather donate the money to my Parish. We can use it more than inner city outreach programs.