Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On the Bishop and Old St. Patrick's

Reflecting on the three negative comments about Bishop Finn that I did see in my perusal of various outlets, two of them were about the Distorter's report that Bishop Finn asked their current host parish to donate $250,000 to the Old St. Patrick Oratory restoration campaign. I don't know much about the Oratory, but I know enough to address those two objections:

Objection one: Wow, how could a parish simply give away that kind of money? Won't that cause them to neglect needs of their own?
Answer one: The parish, Our Lady of Sorrows, does have that kind of money to give; although small, it is one of the oldest parishes (having its origins in Ss. Peter and Paul) and widely known to be one of the wealthiest ones. It's also one with a small, recently rehabilitated physical plant, no school, no major capital expenditures in the forseeable future, and not really that many people in the pews for the English Masses (the ones that are being largely the sort of folks who read the Distorter, I would gather, but that's not at issue here).

Objection two: It's not fair that parishioners of one parish should have to give money to support the establishment of another parish!
Answer two: Fair? First of all, what's the big deal about redistribution? When secular governments pick wealthy pockets, the Distorter partisans call it "social justice," don't they? When rich suburban parishes send money to inner-city "Catholic" churches where they carry on in newfangled, protestant-like services, it's called "supporting domestic missions," isn't it? Anyways, it doesn't sound like it was coerced, and when a parish splits in a growing area, things are handled in a similar way all the time. What makes it fair in those cases, and in this case, is that the break-away parishioners contributed, in the years before, to create the surplus. In this case, the Latin Massers dropped checks into the collection baskets at that parish for about 15 years, giving far more in regular collections than the $250,000 requested now, and despite that support, they weren't treated like regular parishioners--rather as tenants at will--the entire time they did so. Likewise, the Latin Massers contributed to the substantial rehabilitation of Our Lady of Sorrows a few years back; they've sown seeds, and they're entitled to reap some of the grain.

So anyways, nobody has any reason to think there's anything funny about the Bishop's request for Our Lady of Sorrows parish to help out on the Old St. Patrick's restoration (which request, by the way, may or may not have been fulfilled--I don't know). Nor does anybody who might otherwise be inclined to donate to the cause in conclude that they don't need your help now that they have some money from Sorrows. They do need help! They have thirty or forty years of neglect to repair, and 125 years of natural aging to address, in addition to replacing all the beautiful furnishings that were thrown out to make way for the styrofoam altar and stuff that the liturgical vandals defiled the building with in the 1970s.

No comments: