Keeping an eye on the collection plate

Keeping an eye on the collection plate

Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal included an article on the need for better financial oversight in the Catholic Church in the US by David Gibson. While there is no doubt that the news has been full of stories of financial misconduct in the Church (not a new development in itself), I was a little leery of the article from the beginning because of its author, David Gibson.

Gibson is the author of “The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World”. From the title you can guess there might be an anti-Pope Benedict slant, and you would be right. Here’s part of the blurb on Amazon: “No fan of the current pontiff, journalist and religion writer Gibson provides a scathing profile of Pope Benedict XVI and issues a dire warning about the future of Catholicism. Asserting that Benedict is a regressive theologian, he cautions that the church is headed in a very conservative direction, in direct opposition to the silent majority of American Catholics, who favor a more liberal spiritual and social agenda.” Say no more. I know exactly where Gibson is coming from and going.

In addition I’m left a little wary finding the kind of mistakes in the story that a so-called expert on the Church shouldn’t make:

The dangers in such a drumbeat of stories are similar to those that attended the sexual-abuse scandal: the impression that all priests are prone to theft (celibacy was blamed for the abuse of children—will the vow of poverty be attached to embezzlement?); the claim that the Catholic Church is uniquely prone to such crimes and the sense that it is not doing enough to address them.

Someone should tell Gibson that secular priests do not take a vow of poverty; only members of religious orders who adhere to the evangelical counsels do.

Stealing and sexual sin are intertwined

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  • Dear Dom,

    Is the dissent we see from some priests a result of the promise of obedience to make to their ordinary?  According to the logic of Mr. Gibson, it would seem the case, eh?

  • But who will watch the bishops? In Milwaukee, our previous bishop, Archbishop Weakland, who still reigns gloriously, spent $450,000. of the peoples money on his boy friend, and of course this does not include the lawyers costs. When all this finally came out in the open, the local DA said that no laws were broken. Oh, really, like where did he go to law school? And this is only what we know………..

  • Andrew, I think you need to read the article Dom is quoting from.  Gibson is not suggesting (at all!) that embezzlement is linked to the vow (or promise) of poverty that priests take (explicitly or not).  Rather, Gibson’s saying that the drumbeat of stories about financial skullduggery in the priesthood will ultimately lead readers to conclude that there’s a connection, just like they (wrongly) concluded that there’s a link between the vow of celibacy and perverted attacks on children.

    Gibson’s on the side of the angels with this article—and on OUR side too, I might add.