The Golden Hoard of Rockville Centre

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 14, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

More than 100 members of the Long Island chapter of Voice of the Faithful marched from St. Agnes Cathedral to the diocesan offices three blocks away to call for the creation of an outside “finance council” to watch over the diocesan finances. Members of the group gave a representative of Bishop Murphy a box containing 7,000 signatures of Long Island parishioners asking for the diocese to account for what VOTF claims is a $188 million cash reserve held by the diocese. They said the funds should “be put to good use in the community.” “There is an honest reserve, and then there is hoarding; this is hoarding,” said Penny Duggan of Massapequa. “There are parishes that are very poor. We’re asking the bishop to share with the parishes.”

Sean Dolan, the spokesman for Bishop Murphy, responded, “The truth of the matter is the diocese relies on money generated from its investments to fund its ministry. Spending down the reserve would force the diocese to reduce the number of programs it provides.” Dolan also noted the diocese receives financial advice from a nine member council, whose members include Peter Quick, a former president of the American Stock Exchange, and Kenneth Langone, a co-founder of Home Depot.

Voice of the Faithful co-chairman Dan Bartley said that although the bishop’s panel has helped maximize the church’s financial portfolio, it has not been responsive to the needs of local parishes and communities. He said the church could use money from its reserves to fund teacher salaries in Catholic schools, increase funding for low income parishes, and secure retirement benefits for nuns and priests.

“Since it’s the faith community that donates money in the first place, that community should have some say,” Bartley said. “Long Island still has lots of poor people. Why not support poor parishes?”

I hope Voice of the Faithful also included in that box of signatures a copy of the Bible, with a few of the Gospel passages underlined in red for Bishop Murphy’s special attention.

– Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the temple. The famous “Den of Thieves” passage also was quoted in a book of the same name about a few unscrupulous Wall Street investment bankers. I’m sure the diocesan financial advisors have read the book.

– The one describing how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven.

– Where Jesus urges his followers to give away their possessions and follow Him. “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart, also.”

I am going to write to Bishop Murphy this weekend, and recommend he pursue another investment strategy. That strategy includes funding parish programs and initiatives that assist the jobless and immigrants find jobs and homes. Funding counselors to help guide them through government bureaucracy, who know where and how to apply for grants, funds and financial aid would be a great help. Some of these new working people will give back to the church.

The diocese needs to raise the salaries of teachers in Catholic schools. If we attract good teachers, and keep the good ones we have, we will also attract students who can pay, and families who have money to contribute to capital projects for their school and parish. Alumnae/ni from Catholic schools are often generous and loyal supporters of their institutions and teachers long after graduation.

The buck stops with Bishop Murphy. Bishop Murphy needs to be the one to set the example. If a chunk of the diocese cash reserve is spent to aid the poor, alleviate suffering, educate children, support the elderly, it will set a good example to the Catholics on Long Island and beyond. It hopefully will inspire all Catholics, in parishes and nonpracticing, to get involved, rethink their priorities, help one another and their neighbors.

That is the wise investment advice VOTF is giving Bishop Murphy. He should listen to them.

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