... we've got people worried that their money might be "sued away," especially with upcoming court cases. Even though we have engaged the finest legal experts to establish a Faith in our Future Trust - meaning that the revenue really does not belong to the archdiocese at all, and thus cannot be raided by tort attorneys, and that donor intent (to use the money only for the reason given by the benefactor) must be scrupulously protected - some people are still nervous.
One reason might be that in the 1980 letter from Weakland to Marcoux, our then-Archbishop turned down Mr. Marcoux's request for funds because,
I consider all that Church money as a sacred trust; it represents the offerings of faithful and I must be accountable to them for how it is all spent.
Yet Mr. Marcoux was ultimately paid $450,000 from an Archdiocesan account. Our Archdiocese has not acknowledged that this involved any problems of breach of trust and accountablity. Bishop Sklba and Finance Director Schneider continued in their positions after this payment came to light. So why shouldn't people be nervous that donor intent will be protected?
And if donor intent is ultimately sometimes rationalized away by our Archdiocese in approving grants or payments from the Trust, donor intent might not then protect the Trust against the argument by tort attorneys that it is an Archdiocesan asset. I doubt it enhances confidence in scrupulosity that Bishop Sklba, who knew of the Marcoux payment, is one of the five Faith In Our Future Trustees.
Archbishop Dolan continues,
... we've got people still ticked-off at the archdiocese, who wonder why their parish keeps only 60 percent of the revenue raised. Even as we explain that the money does not go to "the archdiocese" but to essential programs of Catholic education and lifelong faith formation for the wider church of 700,000 people in southeastern Wisconsin,
Less $9 million in fundraising expenses,
and as we remind people that they are Catholic, meaning that their generosity goes beyond their own backyard, some people still grouse about not being able to "keep it all for the needs of their parish;"
If a parish is their own backyard, isn't the Archdiocese his own block? "Stewardship to the Global Church" is to get $1,650,000, an amount less than one-fifth of the fundraising expense.
... and stewardship is still new for many Catholics. Many of us are used to tossing a couple bucks in the basket, maybe buying a raffle ticket now and again, and grudgingly forking out tuition (which of course is not a gift but a just payment for services rendered),
Sure, if the kid who attends Catholic school pays for it out of his or her own money.
and resist the call to return a regular proportion of our income, consistently and sacrificially, to a God whose goodness to us knows no bounds, and who will not be outdone in generosity - stewardship!
Maybe the potential givers see some stewardship problems on the recipient's side. After all, it's the potential recipient who's telling us all the steps it's taking to protect itself from potential creditors.
When this column was published Archbishop Dolan was in Lourdes on a pilgrimage so maybe the campaign is going miraculously well.
P.S. Implying Catholic schools are pretty much just private schools and berating people on stewardship isn't how Archbishop Dolan usually talks. I wondered what might have brought that on. Then I remembered his annual meeting with all the Archdiocese's priests was just few weeks ago. A lot of them talk that way; maybe it rubbed off on him. Pray that it's temporary.