Tim Roemer, a former Democratic Congressman from Indiana, has some advice for fellow Catholics today: Don’t give your money to the Church. The sexual abuse scandals still haven’t been properly addressed, and there are a number of reforms needed within the Church.
To that end, he argues, Catholics should give to Church-run charities or other non-profit groups that are doing great work. He also makes a number of other smart recommendations:
To be successful, the laity must act. We should suspend our institutional giving (establish a financial structure to hold contributions in escrow, out of the control of diocesan authorities) and send donations directly to Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services or the local homeless shelter.
Second, we should sign petitions to the bishops demanding that diocesan records be sent to the state’s attorney general to cooperate with abuse investigations.
Third, we can urge the church to support, not oppose, revision of laws pertaining to old state statutes of limitations protecting the abusers.
Longer term, we should work toward transforming the church leadership. Lay experts should be involved in clergy assignments when the safety of children is at stake.
The gist of his suggestions is simple: The Vatican has not provided proper oversight, so it’s up to believers to take control of a religion gone awry. The Catholic hierarchy may not listen to lay people, but they won’t be able to avoid change if people are leaving the religion or withholding donations.
It’s an argument we’ve heard so many times before, whether we’re talking about politics or religion: Criticism from outside can be avoided, but people inside the fold have incredible leverage. They just have to start using it.
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