Giotto - Jesus throws out money-changers from the temple
You would imagine that this has something to do with religious faith. It is not. It is the name of a fund-raising campaign sold by an American company. Several English dioceses have used it and found themselves better off financially as a result.
Westminster diocese has tried it in several parishes. Recently a letter came from the Archbishop. Significant, because the odds are that if it had come straight from the diocesan financial secretary office the clergy would have stood up as one man (still) and lynched him. The message is that a campaign committee had decided, wow, that it works and that all parishes should go for it. No question of consulting the parishes or their clergy. It has been decided by a pre-vetted campaign committee, and that's it. Par for the course, these days.
What's it for? We're aiming at millions, partly to keep retired clergy, partly to maintain the seminary and pay for students in other seminaries, partly to pay for a recently founded organisation called CARITAS for social work. No discussion over how much each category needs or whether there might be other ways of paying for them.
So that justifies the religiosity and phoniness of the campaign title which properly belongs to a catechetical programme. The method of fundraising, however, goes way beyond what has up till now been regarded as acceptable. The clergy are to identify the biggest givers in the parish and visit them to ask for a financial commitment over five years. How to identify them? By inspecting the planned giving records.
Planned giving is a perfectly decent and sensible system of regular offerings to the parish, which for the sake of gift aid requires the amount to be recorded. For decades parishioners using planned giving were guaranteed anonymity. Every parish had someone who kept these records, but a big part of the scheme was that the parish priest would not be able to see how much each person gave. That was reserved to the co-ordinator. That protection is now to be abandoned.
And you're not safe if you're lapsed but thought to be well-heeled. In the presentation for the scheme, such people were also proposed as suitable targets. Never mind getting to Mass: just cough up and your charity will be rewarded. Lordy.
And of course we clergy would benefit by having these meaningful discussions with wealthier parishioners. It would get us out visiting (on the blithe assumption that we're not doing that already). Good for our souls.
Growing in Cash, perhaps. Another wheeze suggested earlier for fund-raising was to have statues of locally popular saints. You have Italians in the parish? Stick up a statue of St Rita - works wonders. Just when Barclays are in bad odour for fiddling with rates and now HSBC (the diocese's bank) are shown up as money-launderers and worse, this is not a great time to get into moral blackmail or arm-twisting for the diocesan coffers.
Read more: http://davidawalter.blogspot.co.uk/