Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Vatican Warns About Loss Of Donations

Vatican fashinistas better get these while they still can because the indifferent taxed laity are losing their indifference when it comes to using their tax money to support the Catholic church.

Catholic sex abuse scandal could trigger donations slump, Vatican warns
John Hooper in Rome guardian.co.uk, Monday 26 April 2010

Vatican officials fear the clerical sex abuse scandal could have a devastating effect on the finances of the Italian church, undermining what until now has been a bastion of the faith.

Italian taxpayers have until the end of July to declare their income for 2009 and, under a system in force in several European countries, they can opt for a proportion of their taxes to be paid to the church.

In Italy, 0.8% of income tax revenue is divided between state-run aid organisations and recognised denominations and religions according to the preferences expressed by taxpayers on their returns.

"The media always talk of class actions, compensation for the victims of abuse by the clergy and the legal fees which, since 2001 have forced the American dioceses to sell schools, hospitals, convents and universities," the daily La Stampa quoted a Vatican source as saying. "But in fact the biggest economic damage is done by the collapse in donations."

In Italy, among those who expressed a preference, the proportion of taxpayers earmarking a share for the church rose to a peak of 90% in 2004. It fell slightly to 87% in 2008. That percentage was far higher than the proportion attending Mass each Sunday, perhaps because only predominantly middle-class non-wage earners have to fill in a tax declaration. Last year, they earned the church some €900m (£776m) from the state.

With many Catholics across Europe saying the scandals have robbed them of their faith, there is a risk that this year's income could be much lower. In Germany, where church membership is registered and has a direct impact on church funds, pollsters for Focus magazine this month found that 26% of Catholics were reconsidering their religious allegiance.


I'm hardly surprised the Vatican is admitting fears of a slump in donations. A potential slump of 26% in Germany is hardly a little slump. That's not the statistic I found most informative. The one I found informative is the fact mixing donations with taxes allows the Church to collect money from lots of people who are no longer active members but haven't yet changed their tax returns. That's a pretty sweet deal when you think about it. How many corporations would love the notion of generating income from large numbers of people who don't use their services or buy their products while having someone else do all the collecting?

Pope Benedict has has quite an advantage here. He can preach the leaner and meaner church, alienate more and more people, while collecting revenue from the taxes of the very people he's alienating. It kind of looks like this alienation process, now being further catalyzed by the Vatican response to the abuse crisis, has energized people to financially act on their spiritual marginalization. The Vatican has good cause to be very concerned. The version of a leaner and meaner Church was never going to be a go it alone operation. It's pomp and Vatican bureaucracy could only be sustained by additional revenue from marginalized Catholics indifferent to changing their tax status or from those who continued donating from a vague sense of past duty. All of that is now changing and these passive revenue sources are drying up. If any change comes in governance, it will be because of the revenue losses, not the loss of Catholic souls.

But then one could make the case the whole system exists to generate revenue and has for centuries upon centuries. It looks now though that bishops who need Cappa Magnas better buy them while they still can because the gravy train is drying up.


  1. Interesting article at Huffingtonpost.com


    "Why Christianity Must Adapt -- Or Perish" by Alex Wilhelm

    "... whose vision of the future of Christianity is correct: the conservative, literal Baptists or the modern, liberal Episcopalians?

    ... McLaren is calling for a much quicker change, a larger, conscious adaptation of the religion's text and therefore the religion itself. This manifests as a firm repudiation of the most odious passages (e.g., how to enslave, when to stone, and so forth are to be disregarded).

    ... The Biblical passages subjugating women to the back of the bus need to be let go to reach the modern woman, who no more expects to be treated as a second class citizen than to be beaten. The passages condemning people born homosexual as abominations need to be released to make the church inclusive. The blatantly incorrect attempts at science and history in the book need to be shut out if Christianity is to attract the educated who could not reconcile the Bible and the real world."


  2. Kind of like a Ponzi scheme that's running its course... Or maybe a pyramid scheme. Or both! Reminds me of those fantasy investments sold by Wall Street - to unsuspecting investors. That really had nothing to back them. Truly the house is cards could come crashing down.

    What an opportunity for the Holy Spirit!

  3. It is kind of like a pyramid scheme, but the Legion seems to have really cornered the market on that idea. I bet they are really taking a hit in the donation department.

    p2p that is a very good article.

  4. "... McLaren is calling for a much quicker change, a larger, conscious adaptation of the religion's text and therefore the religion itself. This manifests as a firm repudiation of the most odious passages (e.g., how to enslave, when to stone, and so forth are to be disregarded)."

    ## Not going to happen, and a bad idea anyway. The upsetting stuff in the Bible needs to remain, because it's part of the text; we can't understand our past if we throw bits of it away and pretend they were never there.

    Besides, what does not upset us, may upset someone else, when they encounter the Books; are people, generation by generation, to take out what they find upsetting ? that would lead to a Bible with a lot of pages missing. What one person fionds upsxetting, may be a very powerful message for someone else.

    It may be attractive, but the idea of taking out the "bad bits" is a recipe for chaos. Even the "bad bits" (so-called) have something to say. Besides, how does ghe fact that the ancient Israelites had some attitudes that rightly or wrongly don't commend themselves to some of us today, oblige us to share those attitudes ? People can honour Washington, even though he was a slave-owner - so why is it beyond these same people to respect a body of ancient books which as it happens contain legislation regarding slave-owning ? The legislation is not addressed to them, but to the ancient Israelites. Owning slaves is not a Christian duty, & never has been; if people insist on abusing those texts or others, is that the fault of the ancient authors ? Why not destroy all Classical literature - it's full of unChristian values, and it also says a lot about slaves.

    The objections to the "bad bits" in the Bible are irrational, if they do not also take in the Greek & Latin Classics, which have a fair amount to say about the inferiority of women, the rightness of torture, the correctness of exterminating inferior races, and similarly un-PC attitudes. People in antiquity did not have the attitudes of 21st-century Western liberal democrats, and there is no reason why should have; our successors will have plenty to say in condemnation of us, just as we condemn our predecessors.

    For these reasons & others, I think his proposal is a thoroughly bad idea, tempting as it may seem. Even if one ignores the importance of the Bible for religious life. That argument is meaningless to some, so I haven't used it; but the others are accessible to all.

  5. I'm not totally convinced the bible we have now didn't suffer quite a bit of clipping and cutting and adding over the past two thousand years.

  6. Yes, the bible is a pastiche. It should remain as it is. We must struggle, even there, with the parts that trouble us. It's a pretty good reflection of humanity - the good and the bad. It's like the wheat growing with the weeds. I'm ok with it - as I don't take every word as "law". So I'm with Rat-biter on this one.

    Besides, in the early years of the church there were people trying to harmonize the 4 gospels or slice and dice the entire bible. Humanity has already "been there, done that".

    We need to struggle with the text as we struggle with life. And use our noggins.

    That's a topic for another time.

  7. Yes, Colleen, the fashionistas at the Vatican better get their expensive fancy garbs soon as the economies in Europe, Portugal, Spain & Italy are going downhill fast and that will also cause the indifference to tax money or any money from those nations going to support the Catholic Church. There will be a collapse in donations as the economies collapse and this seems parallel to the collapse of the RCC. I am reminded of the fig tree that bore no fruit that Jesus declared would die and the Vatican and the Banks have done a great job at doing just that - not bearing good fruit.

    Of course the wiser path for the Vatican would be to just follow Jesus' example, but I guess that is asking too much from these do-nothing narcissist that are so effective and efficient at causing hardship and heartache for people.

  8. "It may be attractive, but the idea of taking out the "bad bits" is a recipe for chaos."

    I agree.

    I also believe the Bible has been tampered with bad translations and some cutting and pasting and it was for political reasons and also due to ignorance and false teachers over the last two thousand years.

    Yet even as I feel this has been done & caused great harm, the Holy Spirit cannot be tampered into not revealing the truth to those who truly seek and love God. Love cannot be disguised or remain hidden, nor can deceivers or liars remain in the shadows and not be revealed to those with eyes that see by the guiding light of the Holy Spirit.

  9. The Bible is either (1) the Hebrew Bible -- text corrupt in many places, as to be expected from such an ancient text -- composed over a thousand years BCE -- can only be read by those who know Hebrew; (2) the Septuagint, translation of Hebrew Bible that adds many extra books, the Apocrypha -- made by Jews in Alexandria but adopted by Christians and rejected by Jews in the 2nd century CE; (3) the Christian Bible, usually the Septuagint + the New Testament (composed in the second half of the first century CE). There is no reason to suppose that the texts have been tampered with in a radical way over the last 2000 years. Some textual variants show theological motivation, from the early centuries. The texts of the Septuagint and the New Testament are copiously attested not only in the most ancient manuscripts but in abundant quotations in the writings of the Greek Fathers. (The text of the Hebrew Bible that has authority is the Masoretic text; parts of the Bible discovered in the Qumran caves give older versions of the text, but nothing to suggest radical tampering.)

  10. butterfly:

    I so enjoy your comments of late! Yours is an inspired rage! I am with you every step of the way! :-)

  11. Do not miss this post:


    Wonderful commentary on this crisis from a gay analyst/psychiatrist, former seminarian!

  12. Thanks TheraP. There is reason for rage that is inspired by the pathetic excuses that the Vatican comes up with to not do anything about the men in leadership within their own ranks who aided and abetted pedophiles, the worse scum on the planet!

    How dare they then tell anyone else anything at all about being moral when they also say nothing about the disgraceful amounts of nuclear weapons, the pitiful meager amounts of donations to the Church going to help the poor and starving. Even in Haiti they are going to spend money on a building, not investing in the people of Haiti. It's the same old same old bull.

    People are just not buying their excuses anymore. One would have to be deranged morally to obey these shams in leadership in the Vatican. They have nothing to do except bully female religious, female politicians, female priests, and this while Queen Benedict dresses in drag!

    Believe and follow these pharisees at your own doom and peril.

  13. The easiest 'class action lawsuit judgment' to win against the Vatican is by simply refusing to contribute ANY money.

    Not to a parish....not to the Bishop's Appeal....nothing. Not one penny.

    To quote Nancy Reagan:"Just say no":)

    Refuse to put ANY money in the plate. Or to be creative, put a piece of paper in the plate indicating to the pastor or His Lordship that from now on your $$ will go to directly serve Christ in the person of the poor, via:

    The Red Cross, a local food bank, or some similar entity which actually does something TANGIBLE for the poor.

    Or give the $$ that you would normally give to the church right into the hands of the homeless man on the street. That is Jesus.

    Or slide it under the door of a poor family. Jesus is there.

    Jesus is not in the Vatican or His Lordship's mansion, dining on fine chine & silver.

    He is poor & hungry.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  14. Jesus is poor and hungry.

    He is sick. He is in prison. He is the one who years for a better life and is willing to risk crossing a border to help his family. He is an outcast, whether gay or with the "wrong color" skin, or having the wrong religion or no religion.

    Yes, Jesus is begging on every "corner" - begging for our hearts with yearning eyes.

  15. TheraP -

    "Yes, Jesus is begging on every "corner" - begging for our hearts with yearning eyes."

    True. You have correctly portrayed the truth of the situation. Ditto for the rest of the scenario you paint. Jesus is very much in all of those.

    To me, the greatest hypocrisy if not blasphemy is to note the use of the hymn 'The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor'.

    He does; most churchmen do not or will not. For them the poor are an abstract concept; never deserving of their precious time...or $$.

    Or at best, 'the poor' are a useful talking point or fund raising mechanism. Photo ops of His Lordship with 'the poor' work wonders when raising money under false pretenses.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  16. I have a slightly different take on what Jesus might have been driving at. It isn't just that we can see Jesus in the poor, it's that we need to understand we are no better in the eyes of God than the homeless man pestering us for money or the crack whore passed out in an alley.

    One of the first things I had to learn was to ditch my mental concept of plaster Jesus because it was preventing me from getting the point. It's hard to see Jesus in a person of color when the one in your head is white.

    It was then that I understood the deeper meaning about where I exactly fit in the celestial pecking order, as in there wasn't a celestial pecking order. We are all equal and I should get over my ego and get with the program.

    I think the most important attribute of all the truly spiritual people I've met is compassion with total integrity. Virtually every single one of them live beneath the poverty level and not one of them cares. Although I never heard them say it, by judging the amount of time they spent with people, I can state with some certainty the people they saw as truly poor happened to be fairly rich.

    Every time I hear Benedict state the importance of saving Western culture from secularism and return it to it's Christian roots, I hear a man who doesn't get it on a fundamental level. This lack of understanding is reflected as well in the College of Cardinals and too many bishops in their attitude to the laity.

    When your mind is fully entrained in the Western Catholic Jesus you are not apt to see Him in the darker poor Muslim woman. You may even be tempted to think you hold a preferential place in the celestial pecking order.

  17. Colleen -

    As to the 'dark, poorer, Muslim woman, one must remember that Jesus is very much in her: correct!

    Those who read the Holy Quaran with coherence will see that Jesus is very clearly identified as the Son of God, born of a virgin, prophet & Messiah. The problem is that the Quaran, like the Bible, has been tampered with.

    Few also realize that God used Islam to reach the pagan Arabic/Near-Eastern ppls.....to save them from the Vatican, which had by the 5-6th centuries so utterly failed to evangelize properly! It is a different form of very legitimate faith in God, specifically tailored for them.

    "we are no better in the eyes of God than the homeless man pestering us for money or the crack whore passed out in an alley."

    Yes - due to out sins. We are Blind to the true state of our souls & the way in which God sees us: as we truly are.

    Also he created each of equally - out of love. He loves the crack whore just as much as me. He loves my most hated enemy as much as me.

    This goes back to the core of the Gospel: that we will be judged on the Gospel. On the basis of how MERCIFUL we have been to others. To the poor, to those different from us, to our enemies.

    If we cannot bring ourselves to pray, in all sincerity: "Father, have mercy on N. (insert name of enemy)", then our chances of being invited to the Celestial Banquet are rather dim. Unless we do what Jesus taught:

    Fix ourselves - with His help.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  18. anon, your last paragraph reminds of a story told by a friend of mine. She decided she was going to reconnect with her Native past, and because of professional contacts she was introduced to elders from through out North America. One agreed to mentor her through he spiritual journey.

    One of the first things he told her was that she would have to forgive her father, who had really abused her and her siblings. She was like, "no way, what are you smoking?" So her mentor told her she just had to make the prayer for his forgiveness, it wasnt' important that she meant it at that particular point, but she had to do it every time she prayed.

    So she did, but she would also add in the prayer that she didn't mean it at all, she was just going through the motions.

    And then one night, two and a half years later, she realized she meant it and had an incredible personal healing and spiritual epiphany.

    She occasionally tells me that some day I will really get this story. :)

  19. Yes, Anon Y Mouse, your last paragraph is so important. Forgiveness is so much a part of what it truly means to be Christian, a follower of Christ. How often must we forgive? Forever and into eternity, we must forgive.

    Colleen, I love your stories about people becoming spiritual. There are so many questions that the institutional Church does not address that would lead us to a deeper spirituality and connection with God. Jesus is not made out of plastic or plaster or stone. Going to confession, or confessing to God directly, do people confess their unforgiveness? Maybe they just confess to be forgiven. Confessing to be forgiven any tresspasses is noble, but the next step would be to confess unforgiveness.

    The power to love which enables forgiveness is from a divine source beyond our ego's capability. Throwing off the ego is essential to enabling forgiveness.

    While on this subject of forgiveness, I see a willingness on the part of the Pope and the Bishops willing to forgive pedophile priest, whom they consider their "sons." The pedophile becomes for them the prodigal son. Yet, for the laity they express very little by the way of any brotherly or sisterly love or love for "daughters." They are more to us women like abusive fathers.

    I believe that they believe those who stand on the side of the victims are not capable of forgiving the priest who abused them. While this view is not the truth, there may be instances of difficulty to forgive such a "heinous crime."

    I can forgive the Church and the Pope and all of those involved in enabling pedophile priest. The outcry they hear must be understood to them as not unforgiveness or mere anger & revenge, but a cry they need to hear in order that they may shepherd and be followers of Christ.

    word verification is uprub ..... ??

  20. Quran - tampered with. Yes, at a certain point everything that might have constituted a historical record was destroyed by those who had the power to circumscribe and canonize the book that has been memorized and sung for centuries by Muslims.

    Forgiveness: The Tibetan Buddhists have a blessing that is said for oneself and one's family, teachers, eventually for one's enemies. And it is the same blessing for each. I think that is a powerful way to extend "forgiveness" bit by bit. I find if I say that blessing it does really help. And since - right now - I'm struggling with that related to some recent incidents within my family of origin, I appreciate this reminder.

    Here's a link. I learned this from Kusela, a Bikshu monk:


  21. How in the world did we ever get discussing the importance of forgiveness on a blog about loss of donations. On the other hand maybe they are kind of related. Although I guess it's quite possible to forgive with out enabling the offending behavior by financially supporting it.

  22. Yes, I think it's possible to "exercise" forgiveness - while still withholding material support. I suppose it's like Jesus who forgives the good thief, though does not save him from death.