Diocesan cuts in Madison for important social services

One of the repercussions after the termination of Ms. Ruth Kolpack at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit, Wisconsin, is that several progressive and middle-of-the-road Catholics are quite unhappy with the Diocese’s decision.  Some have called for consequences for her termination by Bishop Robert Morlino (see this article that I wrote for the National Catholic Reporter), including withholding their contributions to the Diocese unless their beloved friend and teacher was reinstated.  That is not happening, so now many Catholics in the Diocese of Madison are facing the tough choice of whether to give to a Diocese whose decisions they don’t agree with.  While making this financial statement, they also risk cutting important social service programs.

It’s a risky move during the current economic downturn for Catholics that are concerned about the most economically marginalized in our community.  It’s not that the Diocese provides the only basic-needs services in town, but they do provide a significant amount.  It’s hard to tell if the closing of the Catholic Multicultural Center on Madison’s impoverished South Side is a direct result of some disaffected Catholics withholding funds, or if it’s because of a down economy in general, but the comments on this article would certainly lead one to believe that it has to do with the laity withholding funds.

It’s a tough conundrum that all Catholics probably have to face at some point or another in their journey.  It’s certainly not the first time that someone came up with the idea of withholding funds from a diocese without consciously thinking about the important human services that a diocese provides (or can provide) in a community.  Time will tell what other jobs and services are cut in the Diocese of Madison, in part because of the withholding of funds over what some have deemed the unjust termination of Ms. Ruth Kolpack.

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2 thoughts on “Diocesan cuts in Madison for important social services

  1. We discussed that dilemma at the lay synod in Chicago this past weekend, and Lena Woltering made the great suggestion to go directly to the program and ask what they need in terms of material or financial aid. Sometimes a parishioner will decide to, for example, pay the light bill at the parish to make sure that their whole contribution keeps the parish going rather than getting redistributed by a bishop. Donors of less means can contribute food, diapers for a pregnancy aid program or other material goods to a human needs program.

  2. Yeah, that’s an interesting concept Kate. I’m just curious though. And this might vary by parish and/or Diocese, depending on how the tax-exemption is set up, the organization that receives donations.

    But let’s say I go to St. Gertrude’s and offer to pay their light bill. If I make the check out to St. Gertrude’s to pay the light bill, do they have to give a portion to the Archdiocese of Chicago? Some giving funds are set up that way.

    Or if I pay the light bill directly out of my own checking account, do they need to report that as an in-kind contribution in their audit? And then if the Archdiocese finds out that they are receiving in-kind donations could they get in trouble?

    It seems real complex to me (or maybe I’m just good at making things complex).

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