How Can Catholics Fight Back? With the Power of the Purse.

By John Zmirak Published on July 24, 2018

I once tried to explain the problems faced by faithful Catholics to my good friend Eric Metaxas. “Imagine you felt your salvation depended on staying inside a Church with apostolic doctrines, which is run by liberal Protestants.”

We Catholics have faced some version of that for most of my lifetime. In theory, the bishop is meant as the heir of the apostles to be the main teacher of doctrine. And a model of holiness.

The Cardinal Who Molested the Boy He’d Baptized

Now we learn that more and more of them were either implicated in sex abuse, or helped to cover it up. The former archbishop of our nation’s capital, Theodore McCarrick, was groping seminarians, and even molesting children.

The mainstream news source Catholic News Agency notes that several prominent churchmen were in a position to know about his actions. The Church settled legal claims against him in 2005 and 2007, yet he remained in office, even attending the Conclave that elected Pope Francis. McCarrick played a key role in the 2002 “Charter” meant to end sexual abuse, and may have influenced its decision to exempt bishops from consequences for sex abuse cases.

The worst accusation against McCarrick? That he molested a young man whom as a child he’d personally baptized

How many of McCarrick’s glad-handing colleagues knew, and when did they know it?

Pope Francis’ closest advisor, Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, vouched and covered up for years for his right hand man, Juan José Pineda Fasquelle.  Fasquelle just resigned, when his own sex abuse of seminarians could no longer be waved away.

No wonder the bishops who covered for one of their colleagues aren’t willing to face down today’s fashionable evils. To confront the LGBT attack on Christianity itself. Who wants to risk a revolt on that kind of scale, when you have parishes to run? Nor are we talking mostly about pedophiles, who are no more common among the priesthood than in any other profession. The vast majority of sex abuse cases that occurred in the Church were of post-pubescent boys by gay men, not pedophiles.

Each week or month write your pastor a personal check. Make it out to him, not the parish.

No surprise that bishops find allies in pro-choice labor unions. And in money-sluicing Democrats who promise to keep the Church’s “charities” on life-support as government contractors. Remember when one brave bishop, Thomas Paprocki, ordered his local Catholic U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, to stop receiving Communion? That was after Durbin voted to keep on killing pain-capable, almost viable unborn babies. The very next week, the cardinal in Chicago, Blaise Cupich, did a Skype call thanking Durbin for his help on immigration. Just to make sure that Durbin suffered no political damage. And to slap Paprocki publicly in the face.

Imagine you felt your salvation depended on staying inside a Church with apostolic doctrines, which is run by liberal Protestants.

Cut Off the Supply of Canon Fodder

The only reason these Mainline liberal Protestants serving as Catholic bishops aren’t facing empty churches like their Episcopalian colleagues? That would be immigration. Some 40% of native born Catholics leave the Church. But Catholic numbers stay flat, instead of declining, thanks to Latin American immigration. One in four Catholic adults in the U.S. was born in another country. When many bishops tell us that immigration is the “future of the church,” they never say why. It’s because they’ve given up on the rest of us — the people who grew up here in their churches. Whose ancestors built the parishes they wreckovate. Who are still paying their bills with our donations.

Many of those bishops have virtually ceased to preach, teach, or evangelize the faith. They’ve decided to simply import people, who (wouldn’t you know!) just happen to join up en masse as liberal Democrats. So the Democrats are the allies. Nasty, “harsh” Republicans (so what if they’re pro-life and pro-marriage?) want to shut down the blood transfusion. Then everyone would see just how ghastly sick the patient really is.

Don’t Wait for a Pope to Fix Things

Lay Catholics have very little power to influence our pastors. Or our bishops. We used to wait for the papacy to fix things. To send letters to Rome, in the hope that the Vatican would rein in local abuses. We imagined that faithful orders and solid dioceses would simply outproduce the dying liberal religious orders and lavender seminaries.

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But the orthodox popes who reigned from 1978 through 2013 only managed to slow down the slide.

It’s likely that they were naïve about a fundamental fact: if you’re willing to be a heretic, you’re probably game to lie. Hence ambitious ex-believers who wanted to rise in the ranks, to become say, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., were perfectly happy to mouth orthodox slogans while John Paul or Benedict was pope. They consolidated power, and when they saw their chance they struck by electing Pope Francis in 2013. (McCarrick was one of Francis’s longtime boosters, along with pedophile enabler extraordinaire, the far-left Cardinal Godfried Danneels.)

The Power of the Purse

One leverage, other than prayer, which faithful laymen have is financial. As much as they draw from the taxpayer, the bishops’ main source of income is Sunday collections. (They get 8%, every week, from every parish.)

How much will these bishops get? That is in our hands. Quite literally, in the checkbooks we hold. And there are things we can do. On a grand scale, I’d like to see faithful Catholics of means set up formal escrow accounts. (For the national initiative, we could lightheartedly take the name “St. Escrow’s.”) Those accounts will receive the monies those Catholics would otherwise have given to their bishops. Annually, a board of faithful laymen will review each bishops’ decisions, and pay him what he deserves.

For ordinary Catholics? Well, a very faithful priest in an appallingly liberal diocese once offered this suggestion. If you have a good pastor and parish, but don’t want to fund your bishops’ open-borders or big government activism — or his gay-dominated seminary — do this: Each week or month write your pastor a personal check. Make it out to him, not the parish. He can do it with it what he wills, and you’ll trust him to spend it wisely. The bishop’s not entitled by any law, canon or civil, to one red cent. 

Time for a General Council, Like Nicaea?

On the macro scale, of course, I don’t know how to fix things. That’s in God’s hands. Based on my long study of Church history, I’d say that we’re in a crisis on the order of the fourth-century Arian heresy. That wasn’t solved by electing hardline popes and expecting them to pursue successful purges. It was addressed by repeated universal Councils of Church bishops. Those used to gather bishops, orthodox and heretical alike, and force them to hash out fundamental differences of doctrine. When they taught dogmatically, they trusted the Holy Spirit to guard their conclusions from error. Councils like that affirmed the divinity of Christ, for instance.

Such councils proved long, protracted, painful and divisive. But they gave us the clear tenets of the orthodox faith shared by faithful Christians. Christ told us that He would guard the Church from error in such instances. It’s time to take Him at His word.

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  • Ken Abbott

    The Arian heresy took a long time to extinguish (and persists to this day in some sects). Athanasius was exiled five times (if memory serves) from his bishopric in Alexandria because the Arians kept tugging on the ear of Constantine’s heterodox sons. Prayer, patience, and perseverance.

  • Paul

    What does this have to do with Protestants?

    • tz1

      Shorthand for heretic, or apostate.

      It seems that they confuse apostolate with apostacy.

      • Paul

        I don’t think John is confused

        • tz1

          I meant the Hereticospous.

    • Andrew Mason

      Actually Zmirak said liberal Protestant – that’s a whole ‘nother animal. Anglicans, Baptists, and Pentecostals for instance all identify denominationally rather than as Protestants. I’ve also heard that when Catholics convert to Christianity 🙂 many choose a Pentecostal church as they don’t want a Protestant one. Even if you consider them Protestant there’s a gaping chasm between churches that preach the Bible, and those that preach liberal values – abortion, environmentalism, homosexuality, illegal immigration, intersectionality, racism, transgenderism, and all the other various beliefs that directly defy Scripture. Since Zmirak is a faithful Roman Catholic who holds to the notion of apostolic succession liberal Protestant is probably about the worst thing he can accuse bishops of short of directly calling them disciples of Satan.

  • Fabricante

    What are good ways to tell if we have a good pastor. I’m in the Archdiocese of Boston, I like the idea of writing out the offering that way I’m just concerned the Priest would be using it for good ends.

    • tz1

      Does he say the mass in Latin?

      • Fabricante

        I’ll give him a little more leeway than that.

        • Zmirak

          Does he ever preach against abortion? Sexual sins? That’s a fair test of whether he’s willing to be countercultural.

          • Fabricante

            To be honest it seems like he’s covering it with a lot of fluff. Like I had a priest in the town I used to live in that was a lot more obvious when he was talking about concepts like the evils of abortion and sexual sins. The Padre at my church now seems like he toning down the language so people will keep attending. I wish it wasn’t the case as I think the area is conservative enough to not have a PC heart attack.

  • Patmos

    Sowing into those who do God’s will and who deliver his word is how you’re supposed to tithe. Paul touches on this in 2nd Corinthians:

    “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” -2 Cor. 12:7

    “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)” -2 Cor. 12:10

    If the purpose in your heart is God’s will and God’s word then you will readily seek out and sow into ministries that also walk with that same purpose, and in doing so you are not giving to man but to God, who then brings provision as his will is tended to and brought to fruition.

  • tz1

    I Gave at the IRS.
    refugeeresettlementwatch dot wordpress dot com, search “catholic”
    US Catholic Bishops received over $95 million from US taxpayers in 2016 for refugee/migrant care

    Also the Youtube video on Catholic Charities, see VxK3ILdN8SM

  • Beth Van

    I don’t think the kind of Council the author suggests could even be convened in these times. The “hashing out” couldn’t happen because the current hierarchy wouldn’t allow it to happen. Besides, what is there to hash out? Cardinals couldn’t even get the pope to answer the Dubia. Do they hash out whether or not homosexuality among priests is acceptable? Who is going to compromise on that one? How could the two sides come together? No, we are in the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies of Akita.

    “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a
    way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The
    priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their
    confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who
    accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls
    to leave the service of the Lord.

    “The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to
    God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If
    sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for

    All things are possible with God. Perhaps now it is time to think of what is probable.

  • Judith Sears

    I agree with Beth Van. What good did the recent Synod do us – got us Amoris Laetitia? I’m concerned that a Council would confuse doctrine, not clarify it. I agree with the power of the purse suggestions. But, I wanted to ask: does the 8% of Sunday collections go to each local bishop or go into a national “kitty” that the bishops divide up? Because, my local bishop is pretty strong and orthodox. I have no real qualms about him.

    • Starlord616

      One priest I knew blew the lid off of corruption in my parish. I’m not even catholic anymore but I respected him..I heard of church officials having beach homes because they stole money from dying people. I would probably be considered a conservative Quaker

      • Linda ILL

        Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.

      • DJ

        Nothing is worth leaving the Eucharist, come home to Our Lord

  • Constitution Cat

    I don’t contribute to my parish, because money goes to the diocese, and I don’t give to the diocese and have not done so for several years. My bishop seems like a nice man but he supports the work of the USCCB and all their corrupt organizations so I can’t give him any money. Peter’s Pence was my last refuge of giving but that too can no longer be trusted. There is no end of ways to tithe to the Church by giving to Catholic organizations and religious orders which are truely doing the work of the Church. I also donate to individual projects in my parish that I think are worthy and I purchase and give away good books, CD’s and DVDs. When we go to judgment our Good God will not only ask how we used the spiritual and intellectual gifts he gave us but will also want an accounting of the material goods with which He blessed us. I will definitely not be responsible for supporting homosexual predators and pedophiles.


  • Andy

    I’m sympathetic, but two thoughts:
    1) More people will see this as a reason to quit contributing anything at all, than will redirect their donations elsewhere.
    2) The money isn’t mine. Tithe 10, save 10, spend 80. All I have is from the Lord. I am obliged to support the Church (not only the lay movement or soup kitchen or crisis pregnancy center of my choosing). And I am not culpable for my bishop’s mistakes. Let the Lord sort him out. Something about a millstone…

    I’m preaching to myself here, but we still need to honor our Fathers. If we are going to have ANY credibility when we demand to be heard, it will be better if we’ve been consistent and faithful with our attendance and tithe throughout the crisis. They aren’t going to listen to the ones holding them hostage. They might take the meeting, but they won’t really take our concerns seriously. We are angry now, but we can’t go swinging from clericalism to the opposite of clericalism. (Anti-clericalism? Laity-ism? Democracy? Whatever.) We are still just the sheep.

    • Constitution Cat

      There are plenty of authentic religious orders and and Catholic organizations run by religious to which a Catholic can contribute. I am not advocating giving only to organizations run by the laity.

      • Andy

        I understand, and I didn’t mean that exactly. We also support a religious order (Miles Christi is the best!) in addition to our home parish (and diocese, indirectly). Plus, ya know, all the volunteer stuff (youth group, troop, marriage prep, home school group) would be substantial if you put a dollar amount on our time.

        I guess the Catechism leaves plenty of room for interpretation:
        CCC 2043 The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.

        But Church is capitalized there. “The Church” to 99% of us ordinary Latin Rite local parish folks, surely means our Ordinary, the bishop of our home diocese.

        Not throwing stones at anyone who takes a different approach.

        • Zmirak

          But that’s not the strict meaning in the Catechism. So you can send to bishops in Iraq & Syria to save Christians from death, instead of paying for gay jaccuzzi parties and sex abuse settlements.

          • Andy

            Fair enough. If you have evidence of jacuzzi parties, gay or otherwise, you should shut out your own bishop.

            I’m not on McCarrick’s side here. I’m just wondering, what level of proof do I demand to judge whether MY bishop is a good guy or a bad guy?

            At a basic level, always at least support the upkeep and growth of your own parish.

          • Zmirak

            And I accounted for that with my suggestion of writing your pastor a check in HIS name, so bishop gets none of it.

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