Saturday, June 30, 2007
You wouldn't think it, but my advocacy of the Father Thompson Center in the
Burger King donation contest has provoked some rather nasty comments, all on my June 6 post. I have my suspicions that the comments are all from the same person, since they are all (a) anonymous, all (b) along the same lines (that is, "the Catholic Church is rich so vote for City Park"), and all (c) on the same old post which most readers would not find unless they were looking for it. Besides, two of them were posted within eight minutes of each other last night.
While the comment about Church teaching on sexuality only manifests profound prejudice, the old "Catholic Church is rich" saw is a fairly common misperception, and I want to address it (especially since it is being used to dismiss the need for funding for a homeless shelter in the city of New Orleans).
The popular media tend to present the Catholic Church as a monolith: as a corporation with the Pope as CEO. (This is the mindset behind many lawsuits: let's tackle the BIG one! Let's sue "the Church.") This approach imaginatively puts all the assets of every Catholic or Catholic-inspired entity into one fund, and assumes that the Pope can sign all the checks. It fails to consider the world's poor, who are the primary beneficiaries of the action of "the Church" or admit what the poor already know: the Catholic Church, taken as a whole, is the world's largest provider of charitable assistance.
That's taking the Church as a whole.
But institutional structures are not "the Church": they are structures at the service of the Church's mission. They are almost all legally distinct entities. The Pope cannot commandeer the resources of a single diocese but his own: Rome. Much less can it be claimed that a homeless shelter in a battered city is "rich" because it was inspired by Catholic principles and begun in answer to a local need by a Catholic priest. The fact is that while the Church is a body, it is a mystical body. Every baptized person is part of it. There is no "Church" except for these baptized members: the members ARE the Church.
At any rate, given the propensity of "anonymous" to spout ignorant ravings, I am going to temporarily establish a policy disallowing anonymous posts. This should encourage some honesty, accountability and responsibility. At least for a while.
Now, go and vote!
Posted by Sr Anne Flanagan at 11:16 AM