Rendering to God & to Caesar


The editorial “Boycotting the Poor Box” (December 3), regarding the U.S. dioceses that have dropped out of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, hit home for me. I’ve been a priest in one of those dioceses for forty-three years. My ordaining bishop was a sustaining contributor to Commonweal and was our bishop when the CCHD began. Deceased, he can hardly be resting in peace right now.

The current bishop announced his decision to withdraw from the Campaign at an annual banquet sponsored by the diocesan Catholic Charities. In the November 11, 2010, issue of the diocesan newspaper, one reads: “The Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund collection replaces the former Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection. Bishop X established the collection in April to enable the diocese to help local people in need.”

My fellow diocesan priests gripe about our current bishop’s focus on money and see this as his way to control yet more resources. But to my knowledge, no one has questioned the decision, and for the usual reason: fear. As a lay employee put it: “Our priests are so vulnerable!” I replied, “Vulnerable in what sense? We’ll always have a roof and food on the table and full health-care benefits. So…vulnerable to ambition?”


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