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Home > Research Library > The Church and Its Money > Christian Stewardship > Roman Catholic Giving

Roman Catholic Giving

The articles and books below explore the giving levels among Roman Catholics in the United States and Canada.


Articles and Papers

Catholic Giving: Leveraging Cultural Change
George Weigel. Philanthropy (May/June 2005).
George Weigel, author and senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, surveys the giving rate among American Catholics and concludes that they “are among the worst givers in the country.” Despite this depressing pronouncement, he notes an encouraging new trend among wealthy lay Catholics of setting up foundations. This “new wave of giving,” as Weigel calls Catholic foundation giving, should be shaped by a few “imperatives,” to help giving become strategic and effective. First, giving should be directed toward smaller organizations, such as think tanks and small magazines, rather than large, established institutions. Second, in their giving, philanthropists should resist nostalgia toward institutions they attended long ago, for places change over time, sometimes for the worse. Finally, Catholic philanthropists should form alliances with givers who have similar goals for their giving. Weigel believes that by following these “imperatives,” Catholic philanthropists can make progress in sanctifying the world.

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An Exploration of Roman Catholic Giving Patterns
John Ronsvalle and Sylvia Ronsvalle. Chap. in “The State of Church Giving through 1993.” Champaign, Ill.: Empty Tomb, 1995.
This extensive excerpt offers a detailed analysis seeking to discover why Roman Catholics give less than Protestants. Catholics and Protestants are compared in the areas of: (1) current clergy compensation, (2) parishioner-to-clergy ratio, and (3) number of worship services per building and differential costs. Included are numerous tables and statistics, as well as examinations of theological motivations, socioeconomic and institutional trends, and current structures within both groups. In light of this data, models are developed that suggest what Catholic giving might be at high, medium and low levels if they were to operate in a fashion similar to Protestants.

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Archdiocese May Ask for 10%
Cathleen Falsani. Chicago Sun Times, February 1, 2004.
Leaders of the Archdiocese of Chicago may soon ask the area’s 2.4 million Roman Catholics to give more of their time, their talents and their money. Church officials are examining a giving program used by the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., to see whether it might be a viable solution to their financially beleaguered parochial system—and beyond that, as a potential catalyst for spiritual renewal. In many Catholic parishes, tithing remains a foreign concept. “We have habituated a generation of Catholics to throw a couple of bucks into the collection basket every time it comes around,” said Tim Dockery, director of development services for the Chicago archdiocese. “While stewardship isn’t necessarily measured just by dollars, a hallmark of stewardship is increased generosity.”

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Generosity in Christian Giving
H.R. Stockert. Catholic Information Network, 1995.
It will come as no surprise to any reader that Catholic contributions to parishes, diocesan coffers, Catholic and other charities—indeed, contributions to virtually any kind of giving program—has faded not only at a startling rate, but at a calamitous rate during the past quarter-century. Annual giving for Catholic families is running around $200 per year—little more than one-half of one percent; a far cry from the Biblical injunction to tithe of all that one possesses. Why should this be? There are a number of factors.

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Church Fund Raising on Target Despite Scandals
The Washington Times, July 15, 2002.
The Catholic Church says the pedophilia and sex-abuse scandals that have rocked parishes around the country since January have not hurt fund-raising efforts in Washington and Baltimore, in contrast to Boston, the epicenter of the scandal, where Catholic giving has ebbed.

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Sex Scandal Fallout: Donations Down to Catholic Group
Zachary R. Dowdy. Newsday, April 14, 2002.
The city's poor and needy are already among the casualties of the escalating backlash against the Archdiocese of Boston and Cardinal Bernard Law. Donations to the charitable wing of the Catholic Church have dropped by more than $800,000, almost 20 percent of the $5 million generated from direct fund-raising, since the priest sex scandal was revealed. Officials said the fiscal health of the church's philanthropy is threatened by revelations that Law, who on Friday vowed to stay on as head of the church, had shielded priests who had committed grievous sexual sins against parishioners.

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Fear About Fund-Raising in Boston Area
Fox Butterfield and Pam Belluck. The New York Times, April 24, 2002.
Catholic Charities canceled its annual fund-raising garden party at Cardinal Bernard F. Law's residence after some affluent donors wrote to say, "Are you crazy?" Maureen March, a spokesman for the charity, said: "There is just such an understandable anger out there toward the church hierarchy (over the sexual abuse scandal). And people feel the only way they have to express it is to stop giving money." The scandal has caused three local foundations and corporations that had been major donors to Catholic Charities to reject proposals for $800,000 in grants in the last three weeks.

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Catholic Charities Is Hurting: Drop in Giving Is Laid to Abuse Controversy, Law
Michael Rezendes. The Boston Globe, April 11, 2002.
The president of Catholic Charities said that Cardinal Bernard F. Law's handling of the widening clergy sexual abuse scandal is alienating donors and could lead to a record deficit for the state's largest social service agency. Joseph Doolin, the organization's president for 13 years and a member of Law's cabinet, said that donations from corporations and foundations have fallen off significantly since January, when the scandal erupted, and that some donors have cited Law as a reason for withholding funds.

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Bush Adviser Optimistic That Scandal Can Be Overcome
Mary Leonard. The Boston Globe, April 23, 2002.
Jim Towey, President Bush's adviser on faith-based issues, said he does not think the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal will make the public more wary of aiding social ministries, but said he was unsure about the long-term impact on donations to Catholic charities. Catholic Charities in Boston has reported a 10 percent drop in donations in the last month and predicted cuts in social service programs. In a Boston Globe and WBZ-TV poll conducted in April, 31 percent of Boston-area Catholics said they were giving less money to the church because of the scandal. Towey said it is difficult to determine whether a recent dampening in charitable contributions nationally is the result of the scandal, a shift in giving after Sept. 11, or a slowdown related to the recession.

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As Lawsuits Spread, Church Faces Questions on Finances
Sam Dillon and Leslie Wayne. The New York Times, June 13, 2002.
The president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, an umbrella organization representing 47 foundations that give the American Catholic church $200 million a year, warns that the crisis of clergy sexual abuse will have profoundly negative repercussions for Catholic giving in the absence of clear and transparent financial reporting.

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More on This Topic

  • Books
  • Statistics & Trends
  • Table 1
  • Table 2



    Related Topics

  • Evangelical Giving
  • Faith and Philanthropy
  • Mainline Protestant
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