Don’t Punish the Innocent Many for the Crimes of a Few

Some people are suggesting putting a penny in the collection plate. If your parish priest is an abuser, that’s a fine idea. If your parish priest is an innocent hero (as most are) trying to make a parish function on a shoestring, then you are indulging your own lust for catharsis at the expense of a lot of innocent people. As I’ve written elsewhere, if your diocese is involved in hijinx involving the use of your money to fund the retirement or legal costs of Paul Shanley types, then don’t tithe to your diocese and write your bishop (and Rome) to say why. But don’t you even think about using that as an excuse not to tithe at all. Use that money to strengthen the Church where it is healthiest and to help the poor, neglected and wounded. F’rinstance, tithes directed to the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, or Mercy Corps, or Human Life is money well spent.

One reader writes with an interesting proposal, with which I disagree:

We should have a national collection to pay monetary restitution for the claims that have and will arise from the current scandal. For if we don’t, how many fine institutions will be hurt? The money has to come from somewhere – do we want to see schools close, programs be cut back, already-strained retirement funds tapped?

It’s true that fine institutions should not suffer, so why not give directly to them and let the bishops worry about paying the lawyers?


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