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Number of U.S. Catholics, deacons up; priests, religious down
Catholic ^ | 7-16-04 | Jerry Filteau

Posted on 07/20/2004 9:08:41 AM PDT by Salvation

 CNS Story:

KENEDY Jul-16-2004 (870 words)

Number of U.S. Catholics, deacons up; priests, religious down

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- New figures show the U.S. Catholic population continues to grow. The number of deacons serving them is on the rise, but the numbers of priests and religious brothers and sisters are down. The long-term slide in church marriages continues.

The 2004 edition of the Official Catholic Directory showed some drop in the number of U.S. Catholic colleges, high schools and elementary schools and in the number of students attending them, but slight increases in the number of elementary and high school youths served by parish-based religious education programs.

A Catholic News Service analysis of diocesan clergy figures showed nearly three out of every 10 diocesan priests in the country are now classified as retired, sick or on leave.

Known in church circles as the Kenedy Directory for its publisher's imprint, the 2,300-page directory is an annual publication that provides detailed information about diocesan offices and Catholic parishes, schools, hospitals, religious houses and personnel in each U.S. diocese. It has statistical data on church life ranging from the number of baptisms and first Communions in the past year to the number of parishes, schools and hospitals and the number of patients treated in Catholic health facilities.

The directory is published from offices in New Providence, N.J.

The U.S. Catholic population at the start of 2004, according to the directory, was 67,259,768 -- an increase of some 850,000 over the 66,407,702 reported in 2003. Catholics continue to make up 23 percent of the total U.S. population.

The directory's national figures include data from Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, and U.S. territories overseas such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam.

The number of priests declined slightly from 44,487 last year to 44,212 this year. Of these, 14,729 were members of religious orders and 29,483 were diocesan.

The directory reported an increase in the number of permanent deacons, from 14,106 last year to 14,693 this year.

The number of religious brothers was 5,504, or 64 fewer than last year. Religious sisters numbered 71,468, a decline of 3,212 from last year.

The directory reported that there were 544 new ordinations to the priesthood in the past year -- up from 449 the previous year -- but the new figure was inflated by an erroneous recording of 61 ordinations in the Diocese of Lake Charles, La. That is the total number of diocesan priests there, and just this June Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Lake Charles wrote a pastoral letter on the impact of the vocations shortage, saying the diocese has not ordained a new priest in the past two years.

The directory listed 19,431 parishes, down 53 from last year, and 2,910 missions, down 78 from last year. Missions usually offer limited services and are typically served by a priest of a neighboring parish.

The nation's 583 Catholic hospitals served nearly 84 million patients last year and 376 other Catholic health care centers served nearly 4.3 million patients. Nearly 21.3 million people were served by the nation's 2,969 Catholic social service centers.

In Catholic education:

-- The 232 colleges and universities enrolled 747,060 students, down about 2,500 from the previous year.

-- The 787 diocesan and parish high schools and 560 private high schools had a total of 680,323 students, down about 6,300 from the year before. There were 37 fewer diocesan and parish high schools than the year before, but eight more private schools.

-- Enrollment declines were sharper in elementary schools. There were 6,488 diocesan and parish grade schools, down 285 from the previous year, and they served 1,796,275 students -- a drop of almost 77,000 from the year before. Private grade schools dropped from 369 to 365 and 95,742 students, about 2,800 fewer than the previous year.

The number of students in religious education rose. At the high school level there were 771,730, about 4,000 more than the previous year. At the elementary level there were 3,612,510, almost 30,000 more than the year before.

Despite the overall 3.2 percent enrollment decline in Catholic elementary and secondary schools, the number of Catholic school teachers rose 5.2 percent. The 2003 directory reported 171,814 teachers but the 2004 figure was 180,881, an increase of more than 9,000.

Lay teachers, who number nearly 170,000, or 91 percent of the teaching force, accounted for more than 8,000 of the additional teachers reported in the 2004 directory.

Surprisingly, however, the numbers of teaching priests, brothers, sisters and scholastics -- Jesuits in training -- all increased in the 2004 report. In all four of those categories the numbers have been generally in decline for at least three decades.

There were 196 more priests in teaching (from 1,596 to 1,792), 174 more brothers (from 1,021 to1,195), 482 more sisters (from 7,389 to 7,871) and 24 more scholastics (from 33 to 57).

During 1993 there were 985,141 infant baptisms, down about 20,000; 896,670 first Communions, down about 1,000; 645,426 confirmations, up about 8,000; and 232,060 marriages, down almost 10,000.

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To: Salvation

>>Why would they inflate these numbers when they have to pay stewardship on them?<<

Not only that, but the Bishops have a good sense of how many communicants there are, and solid figures on the number of confirmations, first communions, marriages, and baptisms there are.

If you have a 300-seat church which is 50% filled over 6 masses, that's about 900 communicants. If you have 2,000 registered Catholics in your parish, your bishop will think you are doing quite well. If you have 6,000 registered Catholics in your parish, your bishop will wonder what the hell is wrong with your services that you drive everyone away.

Of course, that would only apply if the bishops gave a damn.

(All language is deliberate.)

41 posted on 07/21/2004 6:52:29 AM PDT by dangus
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To: thor76

"BUT my story is true in most of the neighborhoods in which white people in NYC fear to tread - which is most of them! "

Well, I think you just explained your own observations. Please do not think NYC is typical of America. By the way, people at this sight are well aware I have a very inhospitable attitude towards illegal aliens. I slam Bush regularly for selling America down the Rio, and trying to outflank the Democrats to the left on all language and immigratiuon issues. But I've moved from city to city (NY, Philly, Boston, DC) several times, and each time I do that, I plot out with pushpins on a street map the location of every violent crime. Hispanic neighborhoods are almost always quite safe.

42 posted on 07/21/2004 7:00:08 AM PDT by dangus
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To: thor76

>> Because they pay a "tax" to the diocese based upon the goss annual receipts of the parish, not based upon the number of active, enumerated parishioners! My friend - son't you get it yet: the priests LIE!!!!!<<

Thor, that is quite misleading at least in the dioceses of Boston, Rockville Center, Arlington and Washington. Most of what a parish pays to the diocese is partial renumeration for loans and expenses the diocese has approved for the parish (i.e., construction costs, etc.) These are not taxes, but are moneys the parishes owe the diocese. The parishes are legally obligated to pay their lenders, which happen to be the dioceses. The only way these moneys are not paid back are becuase the diocese will occasionally forgive loans to struggling parishes. Parishes that are closed are often parishes which dioceses are frequently loaning to and then forgiving the loans of.

The operation of the diocese is funded through annual and quarterly Bishop's appeals. While most dioceses try to come up with a formula for meeting targets to ensure fairness, these are merely targets. I'm sure meeting loan targets helps a bishop notice that a parish is being run well fiscally, and pastors are certainly pressured to meet their goals, but the parish does not "owe" the diocese the appeals.

The goals set by the appeals do certainly keep in mind how much the bishop expects the parish is capable of raising, and I can certainly imagine that a parish which is well in the black will have a higher target set than one which is far in the red; the dioceses often have a sense of income redistribution. But to descrobe it as a "percentage take" would imply that a parish keeping up with massive costs (flooding? roof replacement? exceptional ministries?) would be expected to pay more than one with fewer costs. The truth is usually the exact opposite.

43 posted on 07/21/2004 7:18:17 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

sight=site. Seriesly!

44 posted on 07/21/2004 7:19:46 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

I was responding to thor76's skepticism in the immediately previous post about what the assumptions and methodologies were behind the statistics reported in this article by pointing out that such skepticism about that kind of thing is a long-standing issue.

45 posted on 07/21/2004 7:29:25 AM PDT by RonF
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To: RonF
Poll: Protestant majority in U.S. eroding

This MSNBC article seems to support the number of Catholics mentioned here.

46 posted on 07/21/2004 7:37:03 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: dangus

**Of course, that would only apply if the bishops gave a [-----].**

And maybe some bishops do really care and do tell the truth. Can we really put them into one general category such as "non-caring" here?

47 posted on 07/21/2004 7:39:54 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: RonF

>>I was responding to thor76's skepticism in the immediately previous post about what the assumptions and methodologies were behind the statistics reported in this article by pointing out that such skepticism about that kind of thing is a long-standing issue.<<

It read as if you were validating his skepticism.

48 posted on 07/21/2004 7:41:20 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus

There are very strong regional variations in Hispanic participation.

49 posted on 07/21/2004 7:42:09 AM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: dangus

The largest part of Catholic growth is natural increase and native converts. 1 million Baptisms plus 175,000 converts minus about 450+ thousand deaths is about 700,000 new Catholics every year. Immigration provides only around 200 thousand new Catholics.

50 posted on 07/21/2004 7:44:38 AM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Salvation

**Of course, that would only apply if the bishops gave a [-----].**

>>And maybe some bishops do really care and do tell the truth. Can we really put them into one general category such as "non-caring" here?<<

I suppose I could've said, "Of course that would only apply if each bishop gave a damn." I have little doubt that there are many atheists, anti-Christians, and worse in the episcopate*, but I do not mean to assert that the episcopate, as a whole, does not care about the flock; that assertion would be slanderous against the body of Christ.

(* You don't have to believe the wild-eyed stories about Cdl. Bernadin's alleged Satanism to see how hard he worked to destroy Catholicism. And I've seen much atheist doctrine pumped out of seminaries. Bishop Wcela of Rockville Center, for instance, denied the resurrection.)

51 posted on 07/21/2004 7:47:55 AM PDT by dangus
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

Including illegal immigration, there probably are about 1.7 million immigrants per year. I doubt that immigrants are only 15% Catholic, given the countries that they are from.

52 posted on 07/21/2004 7:51:44 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus
Thor, that is quite misleading
As someone who has in a position to know as a layman, I will repeat: each parish pays a "tax" or assessment to the Bishop. This has nothing to do with any sort of annual appeal. In the Arch of NY it is called "Interparish Finance". This "tax" is levied on all parishes, based upon their annual reported gross receipts from all fund raising. Those parishes which are wealthier do not get any of the monies back. Those parishes which are "on the dole" either for a subsidy to their operational expenses, or for capital improvements, get the money back - and then some, either in the form or loans (at interest) or outright grants.
There is a very serious question about the morality of the diocese charging a parish interest on a loan. Firstly, it is immoral on a purely scriptural basis. Secondly, the money "loaned to a parish", is actually the dollars of the parishioners (either channeled through the "tax" or the annual diocesan appeal, or both). So the people of a parish are saddled with paying interest on a loan, which was their money in the first place! This is morally and ethically questionable - to say the least! i would quarrel that parishes are obligated to pay back such "loans" - much less any interest on them, as it was their money in the first place! The whole thing reeks of "scam".
Want another scam? You are usually required to go through the diocesan building commission for approval to do capital improvement/repair jobs. They will give you a contractor of questionable work ethics (you usually have no choice in the selection of the contractor), who will charge a grossly inflated price for the job. On top of that price, your parish must pay a 5% fee to the Building Commission for their "services!
Please do not even "go there" on the subject of parish closings -it is immoral.
Annual Diocesan appeals are quite another issue. Each parish is assessed a goal based on past performance - period. The pastor is expected to make this goal, or face reprisals & investigations into the parish finances. I have known of priests in poorer parishes who literally tool cash from their pockets - or had family members chip in - so they could meet the goal. As much as such appeals may be necessary, there is nothing fair or equitable about the goals for poorer parishes.
The worth of the existence of a parish should never be determined in $$$. A mission parish with few souls attending it is precious in the sight of God - one soul is precious in the sight of God!
As one who has worked in this field, has seen books, bills etc., I know well whereof I speak.
Regarding the morality of diocesan financing and "taxing parishes", it is a nasty business. In a way it is as immoral as foreign debt! This, combined with the rampant stealing by pastors (which happens much more often then most people are aware), is robbing parishes - is robbing the faithful. In my opinion, anyone who find these above enumerated practices to be morally permissible is in need of an examination of conscience. The patrimony of the church belongs to "the people" who contribute to make it a reality. Priests and prelates are caretakers of that patrimony - it is not their plaything, toy, exclusive province, nor is it an investment opportunity!
53 posted on 07/21/2004 10:59:40 AM PDT by thor76 (Vade retro, Draco! Crux sacra sit mihi lux!)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
You know, there are few neighborhoods in NYC I would not venture into. Most of those, like Bedford-Stuyvesant, have very, very, very, few Catholics.
Yes, that is very true - but that is the failure of the Bishops of the Brooklyn Diocese to evangelize the Black and Hispanics in those area. Regarding Black Catholics - they don't exist for the predominantly Irish clergy....neither in the 19th century, nor today. It is an accepted "fact that black folk are not Catholic - so the clergy do not even seriously try to reach out to them. Those of them who wanted traditional liturgy have for the most part become Episcopalian. Still others, finding no welcome in the Catholic church, have gone to Protestant denominations, where there was more social acceptance. Where there are Black Catholic parishes, the clergy encourage the most disrespectful type of "low church" nonsense possible as they think that blacks "want it that way"! This is of course an insult to the intelligence and dignity of Black persons. Such Black parishes resemble the "Grand Hallelujah Tabernacle" more than a Latin rite church!
With regard to actual raw statistical data about parish ethnicity - there is none! The "Status Annuarium" does not ask you to count how many black, Asian, Hispanic or other you have attending. Just total mass attendance. How many masses do you have in a language other then English - other sacraments/services in a language other then English. If percentages are asked - at all - these are of course the "rough guesses" of the pastor.
So, if we have 300 souls at the Spanish Mass on Sunday, how many Hispanics come to mass on Sunday? Answer: maybe as many as 500. This is because you will have some percentage of Hispanics who prefer to attend an English mass. Even if it is a small percentage, it is usually not considered.
And I will totally agree that there are wide variations in mass attendance of Hispanics depending on the region. AND also depending on the exact nationality of the Hispanics in question!
54 posted on 07/21/2004 11:24:18 AM PDT by thor76 (Vade retro, Draco! Crux sacra sit mihi lux!)
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To: thor76
With regard to actual raw statistical data about parish ethnicity - there is none! The "Status Annuarium" does not ask you to count how many black, Asian, Hispanic or other you have attending.

Its relatively straightforward to compare total parish registration versus the census profile of the parish boundaries. In neighborhoods where one ethnicity predominates with 90% or more of the population, this makes it very easy to determine how many roughly of the dominant group are registered. My own archdiocese, Philadelphia, does this on their website. They also break down Parish registration by ethnicity.

See here:

Pick an area then a Parish, then click on Census Report 2 under each Parish. For example, St. Hugh of Cluny, in the heart of the Barrio, has 3860 Hispanics registered, who represent just 32% of the total living in the Parish's boundaries.

If you add up the number of registered Hispanics in the city versus the number actually residing in the city, you will readily find it is but a small fraction of the total. (Of course, the same thing can frequently be said about other supposedly Catholic ethnic groups, such as the Irish.)

I agree with your comments about the jitterbug liturgies offered to blacks. I knew many blacks in Philadelphia who were of the High Church mindset, and they were almost all Episcopalian. The domination of the Irish around here hardly helps.

55 posted on 07/21/2004 11:52:04 AM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: thor76

I will believe you if you assert there is such a thing as "interparish finance" in the New York (arch)diocese, but it is even only within the diocese itself, and not in the Rockville Center diocese, which falls under the NY archdiocese. What you describe may be a fairly unique circumstance, given the very drastic wealth discrepancies in NYC, and the fact that parishes in NYC cover such tiny geographic areas. (Manhattan has a population density four times any city or county outside New York in America.)

As for the diocese taking "the parish's" money, you talk like a Calvinist! Once that money is put in the collection basket, it is the diocese's. Parishes are not separate little corporations. Like any large organization, each division has its own budget and its own accounts and its own responsibilities, but the whole diocese is all, ultimately, one source.

So, yes, there's a building commission. And there should be. The diocese has every right to make sure its not going to have to bail out a parish which could not afford to pay the debts in incurs when it begins to build.

Your a bit of an expert on your parish's finances are you? Take a look at a diocesan budget. See where the money goes. Here in the Arlington diocese, the vast majority goes to... building new churches! Go find out who footed the bill for your parish's original church. Here's a hint: mission parishes don't have any capital.

If any priest is stealing money from his church, that is an obvous horrible scandal. But should a diocese be forced to redistribute monies among its branches er, parishes, that's not stealing.

56 posted on 07/21/2004 12:20:05 PM PDT by dangus
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
OK - given the lack of real "raw" numbers (i.e. exactly how many whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc. actually attend mass in a parish), your method would yield some interesting answers - but not entirely accurate ones. This is not your fault, or anyone else's. One must realize that census data is far from being 100% accurate for the simple reason that everybody does not answer the census, much less honestly. If I were a family of illegal aliens I would probably not answer it out of fear - many do this. Some do not give truthful responses because they resent the increasingly complicated and invasive questions asked. Heck - I personally never got a form in the last two censuses!!! Nobody came to my door either!
Also we still have the issue of unregistered parishioners. I have been one of those, and I know I am not alone..."known but to God"! Also, I am one of many Catholics who does not live in the boundaries of the church I attend mass at. And I am certainly not alone in that!
However, I accept what you say as a way - flawed though it may be - of determining the ethnic breakdown of parish populations, as these methods you raise are the best available.
57 posted on 07/21/2004 2:56:39 PM PDT by thor76 (Vade retro, Draco! Crux sacra sit mihi lux!)
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To: Salvation
I'm wondering if you are aware of the three levels of Holy Orders:

Yes I am.

Why are you so negative about them?

Because I assoicate their Vatican II restoration and rise (along w/their mentor Priests) with the cheery dilution of the Faith.

But here are some Deacons I'm not negative about at all:

St. Stephen
One of the first deacons and the first Christian martyr; feast on 26 December.

In the Acts of the Apostles the name of St. Stephen occurs for the first time on the occasion of the appointment of the first deacons (Acts, vi, 5). Dissatisfaction concerning the distribution of alms from the community's fund having arisen in the Church, seven men were selected and specially ordained by the Apostles to take care of the temporal relief of the poorer members. Of these seven, Stephen, is the first mentioned and the best known.

Stephen's life previous to this appointment remains for us almost entirely in the dark. His name is Greek and suggests he was a Hellenist, i.e., one of those Jews who had been born in some foreign land and whose native tongue was Greek; however, according to a fifth century tradition, the name Stephanos was only a Greek equivalent for the Aramaic Kelil (Syr. kelila, crown), which may be the martyr's original name and was inscribed on a slab found in his tomb.

It seems that Stephen was not a proselyte, for the fact that Nicolas is the only one of the seven designated as such makes it almost certain that the others were Jews by birth.

His ministry as deacon appears to have been mostly among the Hellenist converts with whom the Apostles were at first less familiar; and the fact that the opposition he met with sprang up in the synagogues of the "Libertines" (probably the children of Jews taken captive to Rome by Pompey in 63 B. C. and freed hence the name Libertini), and "of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia" shows that he usually preached among the Hellenist Jews.

Stephen's preaching so inflamed a crowd of devout Jews, they bore false witness against him claiming he had blasphemed against Moses and God. The angry mob brought him outside the city walls where he was stoned to death.

St. Lawrence
Martyr; died 10 August, 258.
St. Lawrence, one of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy.

At the beginning of the month of August, 258, the emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death.

This imperial command was immediately carried out in Rome. On 6 August Pope Sixtus II was apprehended in one of the catacombs. When Pope Sixtus II was led away to his death, he comforted Lawrence, who wished to share his martyrdom, by saying that he would follow him in three days.

The Emporer, knowing that Lawrence administered the treasure of the church, demanded that Lawrence produce the treasure. Lawrence told the Emporer it would take four days to collect the treasure. Four days later, When St. Lawrence was asked for the treasure, he brought forward the poor, among whom he had divided the treasure, in place of alms.

This so enraged the Emporer that he ordered Lawrence to be roasted slowly over a fire.

on the 10th of August of that same year, Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, suffered a martyr's death by being slowly roasted on a gridiron.

St. Ephrem
St. Ephrem was born agt Nisibis, Mesopotamia in 306 A.D. He was baptized at 18 and served under St. James of Nisibis, became head of his school, and probably accompanied him to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. When Nisibis was ceded to the Persians by Emporer Jovian in 363, he took refuge in a cave near Edessa in Roman territory, and often preached to the Christian community there. He did most of his writing here. Tradition has it that he visited St. Basil in Caeserea in 370, and upon his return, helped to alleviate the rigors of the famine of 372-373, by distributing food and money to the stricken and poor. He died at Edessa on June 9, 373. Ephraem wrote volumously in Syriac on many themes drawing heavily on scriptural sources. He wrote against the heretics, especially the Gnostics. He was devoted to the Blessed Virgin (he is often invoked as a witness to the Immaculate Conception because of his absolute certainty of Mary's sinlessness). He was responsible in large measure for introducing hymns into public worship, and used them effectively in religious instruction. His works were translated into Greek, Armenian, and Latin. He is called the "Harp of the Holy Spirit", and in 1920 Pope Benedict XV declared him a Doctor of the Church. He is the only Syrian to be so honored.

St. Vincent of Saragossa
St. Vincent, the protmartyr of Spain, was a deacon of the 3rd century. Together with his bishop, Valerius of Saragossa, he was apprehended during a persecution of Dacian the governor of Spain. Valerius was banished but Vincent was subjected to fierce tortures because he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and surrender the sacred books of the Church. According to the details of his death, his flesh was pierced with iron hooks, he was bound upon a red hot gridiron, and roasted, then was cast into prison and laid on a floor strewn with broken pottery. But through it all his constancy remained unmoved (leading to his jailor's conversion). He survived until his friends were allowed to see him, and prepare a bed for him, upon which he died. He died on January 22, 304 A.D.

St. Benjamin
St. Benjamin was imprisoned for preaching Christianity during the persecution of Yezdigerd of Persia and his son Varanes. Benjamin was released at the intercession of the Emporer of Constantinople, who promised he would stop preaching. As soon as he was released he again began preaching, was arrested and tortured, and then was impaled when he refused to agree to stop his preaching if released again. He died on March 31, 421 A.D.

St. Euplius
On August 12, 304 A.D., during the persecution of Diocletian at Catania, in Sicily, a deacon named Euplius was brought to the governor's hall and staunchly professed his faith. With the Book of Gospels in his hand, he was called before the governor Calvisian and commanded to read from it. The saint read the passage: "Blest are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Euplius then read the passage: "If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Questioned by the governor as to what this meant, the youth replied: "It is the law of my Lord, which has been delivered to me." Calvisian asked: "By whom?" Euplius replied: "By Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God." With that, the governor ordered that he be led away to be tortured. At the height of his torment Euplius was asked if he still persisted in Christianity. The saintly youth answered: "What I said before, I say again: I am a Christian and I read the Sacred Scriptures." The governor realized that he would never give up his faith, and ordered him to be beheaded. St. Euplius died April 29, 304 A.D., praising God all the while.

58 posted on 07/21/2004 3:22:43 PM PDT by AlbionGirl ("The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.")
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To: dangus; HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
I will believe you if you assert there is such a thing as "inter-parish finance"
Now that I have finished laughing hysterically, why would you imply that I would make something like this up? If you think I did, then call them up and ask them if they are fake.
IPF was the creation of then Cardinal Spellman some 50 years ago. At that time, due to one of the first waves of white flight from the inner cities, some formerly prosperous parishes were now having revenue problems. The initial concept - to take from the rich parishes and give to the poorer ones was good - in theory. What it has developed into is another matter.
How were the parish churches here funded? In the 19th century, if a new parish was carved out of an older one, sometimes "seed money" was given by the "mother" parish. Sometimes the Archbishop would give a similar "seed" gift. Most of the rest of the funds were raised literally from the pennies of the poor (and a few wealthy benefactors). There were times when a pastor had to borrow money from a bank - usually the Emigrant Savings bank, which was partially founded by Archbishop John Hughes for this purpose, and to assist new immigrants. So churches of that era might have had a small mortgage. When it was paid off, and the church was debt free, the building was formerly consecrated - a moment of great joy for the parish! Due to the sheer numbers of contributors, and their eagerness to see such a goal be a reality, most building mortgages were paid off quickly. Please note that Hughes & his immediate successors GAVE money to start off new parishes - they did not lend at interest!
It was Spellman who got the diocese into the usury business. He instigated a vast building campaign. A pastor who built a building got to be a monsignor automatically! Usually this was done by saddling the parish with a large debt to the chancery office. Some of those debts from the post war era have never been paid off, as the population base quickly fled in the turmoil of the 60s and 70s. This leaves today's fractional size congregations with monstrous debt payments - which by all right should be forgiven by the bishop. They simply make no sense. If a bishop raises capital for a building campaign, he should not be lending it at interest!
It also must be clearly understood that Spellman raised money for his building campaign not merely from a normal appeal, nor just from wealthy benefactors. He literally strong-armed the money out of the pastors! He would go to a pastor and virtually demand the surplus savings of the parish (raised by the people for THAT parish), and commandeered it for his building program. Usually it took the form of a "loan" to the diocese.
In one case I know of, the pastor of one parish, hoping to curry favor with Spellman, loaned him $500,000 - a huge sum in the late 50's! Some 15 years later the next pastor, inherited a very poor parish, with very few people, went to the chancery office with a copy of Spellman's letter, acknowledging the loan. He had many bills & repairs to take care of and desperately needed the money. The chancery basically told him to go booty poke himself! the parish never got the money back! So much for diocesan ethics!
Which brings me to a point of law. According to the Religious Corporation Law of the State of NY, each Roman Catholic Parish is a corporation. It is run by a five man board of trustees: President - the Archbishop of NY; Vice President - Vicar General; Secretary - Pastor; and two lay trustees nominated by the pastor and approved by the archbishop. They are independent corporations under law. Diocesan control under civil law is effected through an interlocking directorate. All parish real property is deeded to the Archdiocese of NY. The parish monies remain in the treasury of the parish corporation, and are the property of the parish.
Now as to canon law, and Vatican directives, neither the local pastor, nor the bishop "own" the property or the fiscal assets. These belong to the church - they hold it as the patrimony of the church in a fiduciary responsibility.
But the money, real property etc., is truly the patrimony of the people of the parish. According to a much ignored Vatican directive, every parish is to have a finance committee, to oversee the finances of the parish. This is NOT a parish council. this committee is to have real power in decision making regarding the assets and fiscal management of the parish. It is to protect the people's interests, and to assist (and protect) the pastor by a sharing of responsibility. A similar set up is to exist at the diocesan level - with open accounting.......which you will never see!
The point of this is that parishes are in fact independant corporations. There is diocesan control & supervision. But the patrimony of the church belongs to the people - it is "held in trust for" by the clergy.
As to the building commission - I should point out that they stick their fingers into every little repair which is made. As per the policies I outlined in my previous post, there is no moral justification for such practices.
Diocesan finances? At least locally, I would call it a black hole for money. Far too much is wasted on left-wing and other dubious agendas. salaries!
59 posted on 07/21/2004 4:12:14 PM PDT by thor76 (Vade retro, Draco! Crux sacra sit mihi lux!)
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To: thor76

Paragraphs are our frieds........please.

60 posted on 07/21/2004 6:04:10 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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