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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Giving to the Church (State)

The Germans tell the story of a man condemned to death, who pleads for his life before the king.
"Release me, Lord, and I will teach your horse to converse with you as a man speaks with a man!"
"That's impossible!" replied the king.
"It is not!" insisted the condemned man.
So, the king deferred the man's execution for a year, to see if what the man said was true. Every day thereafter, the man went into the stable and tried to teach the horse to talk. A few weeks passed, and the livery boy finally had enough.
"You aren't doing any good, you know. You can't teach a horse to talk."
"Perhaps," replied the condemned man, "But who knows what might happen in a year? The horse may die. I may die. The king may die. Or perhaps the horse really will learn how to talk."
In the spirit of the condemned man, I propose an idea.

The USCCB has the odd habit of insisting that the government should take care of the poor instead of insisting that the Church should take care of the poor. That is, they seem to think that when the State confiscates our money via taxes in order to redistribute our money to the poor, this action is morally superior to NOT having the State confiscate our money so we can individually give what we will to the poor.

It occurs to me that I should take them at their word.

Now, a couple of things should be explained first.

Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.
§2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.

Anytime I do the work of the Church, or give to a cause that is the work of the Church, then I am financially supporting the Church herself, as Canon 222.1 explains.

That is,  when I give my children a Catholic education, I *AM* giving to the Church.
When I feed my family, I *AM* giving to the Church.
When I house my family, I *AM* giving to the Church.
And since parents are an ordo of the Church, when I feed, house and clothe my wife and myself, I am providing for the decent support of the Church's ministers. Sure, we may not be ALL the Church's ministers, but it's not possible for me to give money to EVERY minister in the Church, so we do what we can.

My family is the essential cell and ground of the Church.
As John Paul II said, without the family, we don't have a Church.

Now, sure, we should give what we can to the collection basket.

But I am responsible for my family before I am responsible for the parish.
The Church got along without parishes for the first thousand years.
It has NEVER gotten along without families.

And, in any case, when someone with a gun takes my money, that's money I don't have to give anymore. That's what the State does - it takes my money, money that I COULD have given to the Church. It takes it under threat of jail time for me and/or my wife. And the bishops are fine with that.

In fact, the bishops encourage the State in confiscating more and more of our money so that the poor can be cared for by the State. The bishops apparently don't trust us lay Catholics to do anything so noble. Only the government can really be trusted to exhibit virtue.


So, if the bishops feel that I should give more to the government, then I must necessarily assume that first and basic Catholic principle - money that goes towards a work of the Church is going towards the Church itself.

The Catholic bishops believe the US Government to be the pre-eminent tool of Christian charity. That is, the bishops must want me to assume that the money going to the government, intended for works of charity, is thereby going to the Church. Since the government is doing the Church's work of charity, when I tithe to the government (or double-tithe by giving the State 20% of my income via taxes, or quadruple-tithe by giving 40% or more), then the bishops already have their share.

If they want any more money, they can go to the government and get what they want from their pre-eminent tool of Christian charity. I have given, at the point of a gun, to the State/Church and now my family gets the rest.

And if the bishops don't like that arrangement, then maybe they should change their attitudes about what the proper work of the State actually is. Perhaps they could spend some time in reflection on what the word "tithe" means, or meditating on what level of contribution American families already make.

And perhaps, if we try hard enough, we really can teach the horse to talk.


bobef said...

More disappointment from the US bishops. Makes one wonder what they'll do when persecution of the Church really heats up.

Flambeaux said...

They still think they can buy off the crocodile.

Well, the ones that see the crocodile in the first place.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.