On the blog of Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Mark Gray comments on the Economist report about the Catholic Church’s finances in the U.S. (Matthew Schmitz highlighted the story earlier today.) Gray argues that the piece shows a “lack of understanding of what the Church is as an institution.” He continues:
I am guessing The Economist does not have a copy of the Code of Canon Law. Even a glancing read of the Code would have revealed that the Church is quite clearly not run like a multinational corporation such as Walmart or General Electric and I for one am glad it’s not. The sole objective of the modern corporation is to extract and grow profits and in doing so it creates economic growth, wealth, and products and services we desire. But it sadly has no capacity for social justice. . . .
Why don’t the people and institutions that make up the Church in the United States take the time to communicate their budgets and revenue together in an annual hierarchical manner so the Church can produce a financial report that The Economist needs for its story? Because it would be an extraordinary waste of the Church’s resources and time. The Church is not in the business of generating profits like a corporation. It provides ministry, charity, and service to the communities it exists in. It also has no legal obligation to provide what The Economist desires.
As an institution, the Church is nearly 2,000 years old and its structure was fashioned well before modern communication. This reality required significant local autonomy. Priests were responsible for parishes, bishops for dioceses. This same feudal-like structure persists. Add on to this the development of colleges, schools, hospitals, and charities that were often associated with religious orders. Separate aspects of the Church operate for the most part independently—with their own leadership, budgets, revenues, and obligations (perhaps some of the frustration from The Economist comes from the realization that financials do exist for each of these institutions and organizations but it would take forever to collect and tally them all).
I hate to break this to The Economist but there is no “U.S. Catholic Church.”
Read the rest here.
h/t Rod Dreher