According to a Boston Globe article, a lot of Catholics told the Archdiocese of Boston that they were withholding donations until Cardinal Law was gone. Others said they were re-directing their giving to local parishes. But even so donations to parishes are reportedly down at least 25 percent. I don’t think that’s so much people in the pews not giving as there not being as many people in the pews.
The article says the archdiocese is now calling giving those people’s words back to them. They’re saying, in so many words, the Cardinal is gone, now are you really going to give to the capital campaign or the Cardinal’s Appeal? In other words, they’re calling the bluff.
- A Gallup Poll released this week found that 40 percent of Catholics say they are less likely to contribute money to the church because of the sexual abuse of young people by priests, up from 30 percent in March.
This is why you have to be wary of polls. How many of these Catholics are practicing? How many go to church every Sunday? What was their level of giving prior to the Scandal? Was it a dollar a week or $50? There is just enough information given by the article to let you make a judgment, but not enough to let you make a sound judgment. This is why statistics thrown around like this are useless.
Unfortunately, much of journalism has become reporting by poll and survey. It’s a journalism of laziness. That’s not to say that polls and surveys don’t have their place, but only if they are given context and inform rather than fill space or leave ambiguous impressions.