A Program for Reform, Part Three

Patheos blog

Nov. 25, 2019

By Gabriel Blanchard

Financial corruption is another major element that runs throughout the Church’s scandals. It takes money to cover things up, spin them when they get out, fight lengthy court battles, and pay for victims’ compensation. It overlaps with some of the sexual scandals in themselves, too: in not a few cases of sexual predation on young people, the grooming of the victims involved expensive gifts and vacations. And then there’s the good old-fashioned brazen self-centeredness of men like the recently disgraced Bishop Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston: nothing complicated, just the lifestyle of an opulent jetsetter in a diocese where some people don’t have little luxuries like running water.

II. Financial Reform

1. All bishops shall be required to make a vow of personal poverty. As successors of the Apostles and ministers of Christ, it is the responsibility of bishops to care for the poor; and nothing is so likely to keep someone conscious of the poor as being one of the poor. Magnificent churches are one thing—it is appropriate to give God our best and loveliest, not because he needs it (he made it after all) but as a gesture of thanks and praise; episcopal palaces and splendorous chanceries are something else entirely, and the money that such things both represent and require would be better spent on the poor: the parallel of Judas’ complaint about Jesus being anointed at Bethany applies to churches, not to mansions and seaside condominiums, still less to the unsavory behavior that such mansions and condos have been used to conceal.

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