The same friend who drew attention to sacred music asked me how the Church of the Gesu at the Ateneo de Manila is financed. It led me to ask a few questions that may prove to be somewhat touchy:
1. Given that Christians are encouraged to give to the Church, and the standard for giving (enforced in some places and not in others) is 10% of one’s gross income, do Catholic universities contribute at least 10% of every peso received to the Church?
2. If that is not the case, should not university chaplaincies and churches receive 10% of all gross income given to the sponsoring institutions?
3. Are faculty, students, and staff of these institutions being encouraged to tithe—or if that sounds too evangelical a term—regularly contribute to the stewardship of their religious communities?
An Anglican priest told me two years ago that he gives 11% to the Church. The reason? 10% of everything really belongs to God and 1% is out of his generosity.
To tell you the truth, I am not a ten-percenter type of person. But I know that if Catholics everywhere were made to contribute just 100 pesos a week (and the not-so-well-off among us just 20 pesos) and Catholic institutions tithed their incomes, it would make a world of difference. At the same time, an even bigger world of difference would happen: the Church may finally become more accountable because people would ask where the money goes (I hope). And perhaps those who are concerned about the Church genuinely helping the poor rather than (wait, I might be talking like a right-wing reactionary here, I’ll stop that)…
Edited to add a clarifying comment on how much those with lower incomes are expected to give.