In brief

Source: FSSPX News


France. Opinion poll: “The French, the Church and money”

The Permanent Committee for Economic Affairs of the Episcopal Conference of France published an opinion poll on the Church and money, as announced by the Conference ( in a communiqué published last April. This study made by the Tremplin group, based in Lyon, from a representative sampling of 800 people, had as its objective to come to a better understanding of the material situation of the Catholic Church in France. It was done primarily for diocesan bursars in charge of the administration of dioceses.

The results show that the French are not very familiar with the reality of this material situation. For 52% of them, the Church is rich and 44% think her real property should permit her to continue for centuries.

On the occasion of the publication of this opinion poll, let us recall that the finances and accounts of the Catholic Church in France are managed in a decentralized and autonomous way by each of the 95 dioceses. If circumstances change from one diocese to the next, there are constants in the great majority of cases:

In France, the Catholic Church does not receive State or local subsidies (with the exception of the dioceses regulated by a concordat, which are Strasbourg and Metz).

The expenses of the dioceses have a tendency to increase due to the rise in salaries and insurance, and to the cost of building maintenance.

Priests and bishops receive a combined net salary between 747 and 945 Euros per month. In addition, more and more lay people, volunteer and salaried, lend their services to the Church. The salaries average between the SMIC [similar to our minimum wage, translator’s note] and 1450 Euros net per month for full time.

The buildings (churches, cathedrals) constructed before 1905 belong to the local governments and to the State. The dioceses own those built since 1905.

The resources of the dioceses come wholly from the generosity of the public. The annual income from regular collections accounts for 30% of these resources. The amount from collections went up to 180 million Euros in 2001. But among the 66% of French citizens who say they are Catholic, a good third of them never contribute to the collection plate.

The donations are not growing sufficiently to keep up with the increase in costs, putting a great majority of the dioceses in a fragile financial situation. Only one diocese has claimed a balanced budget. The average deficit of the others is about 3%. If nothing is done, in roughly 30 years they could be forced to declare bankruptcy. A good number of them will be facing this situation in 10 years.

Women barred from the Wailing Wall

They are not asking to become Rabbis, but simply to be able to pray at the Wailing Wall with shawl and phylacteries. The judges of the Supreme Court have just refused this demand, proposing as an alternative that they pray in an adjacent location to the Wall called the Arch of Robinson. The anecdote is interesting, because if the bishops of England are going to be in trouble with a pseudo-antidiscriminatroy law which the English state would like to use against the Catholic Church because it does not allow women to become priests, we are curious to see if the feminist lobbies will have the courage to attack the Orthodox Jews...

Bethlehem in agony

While the war in Iraq monopolizes the attention of the entire world, the Israelis continue to suffocate the city. Nothing or almost nothing has changed in Bethlehem since the siege of the Basilica of the Nativity by the Israeli army one year ago. Tourism, on which nearly 85% of the population had depended, is almost nonexistent. As for unemployment, it has reached about 90%… “At this time we are truly in need of just about everything. Never before in the history of the Palestinians and the Israelis have people been constrained to live in such conditions!” confides Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, superior of the Basilica of the Nativity.

United States. What they don’t say.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop of Los Angeles, recently asked President Bush to immediately naturalize all immigrants who have been sent to fight in Iraq without waiting for them to die in this war. The crux of the matter is this: among the soldiers sent to Iraq by the U.S., 15,000 are of Latin-American origin and do not have U.S. citizenship, but only a residency permit. They will receive American citizenship posthumously, if the die in combat.

Tu dicis

In an interview given by Cardinal Schwery, former bishop of Sion in the Swiss canton of Wallis, this latter related to Swiss journalists, among other things, the difficulties he had in resolving certain crises. We pass over in silence what he calls “the Lefebvre affair”, which manifests clearly his complete lack of understanding of the problem, reducing it to the person of Archbishop Lefebvre. Evoking the stir caused by the progressive wing on the occasion of the nomination of Mgr. Haas to the bishopric of Coire, the cardinal recounted his numerous attempts to resolve the tensions, affirming that he always found John-Paul II ready to listen. “But he is only the pope! When I had to go through various curial departments to resolve the crisis, they would listen attentively, but that’s as far as it went.” The result: the Vatican created the Archdiocese of Vaduz [Liechtenstein] and nominated Mgr. Haas as its head. “It’s unbelievable! You don’t created an archdiocese to solve a problem!”, retorted Cardinal Schwery, “it’s a typical solution of the Vatican Secretariat of State, which has become a veritable State within the State.”

Israel. Refusal of visas for a hundred Catholic religious.

The refusal by Israel to grant entry visas to around a hundred priests and religious greatly inhibits the work of the Church in the Holy Land, a Catholic committee revealed. The report showed that 86 requests for entry visas and residency permits for Church personnel (50 women and 36 men from 13 countries) were not accepted. In the great majority of cases, the religious who were refused (about 70) came from churches in Arab nations. Three Missionaries of Charity, the congregation of Mother Teresa, saw their visas denied. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio, is going to challenge the Israeli government. The committee fears that the visas of 22 Catholic seminarians studying in Beit Jalla will not be renewed, which would seriously jeopardize this house which forms the future priests for the Holy Land.

Germany. 150,000 people at the ecumenical Kirchentag

Christians in Germany number about 56 million, two thirds (66.8%) of the total inhabitants of the country: 27 million are Catholic and 26.85 Protestant. For decades now, there has been a Katholikentag (Catholic Day) one year and an Evangelischer Kirchentag (Evangelical Church Day) the next. They have always been well-attended events: between 50,000 and 100,000 visitors each year, attending the exhibits, participating in the conferences and even the ceremonies.

Considering the development of the post-conciliar Catholic Church and the advances of ecumenism, the organizers decided in 1996 to have a common Kirchentag (Church Day). This goes a long way toward revealing a latent schism that will end up being formalized one day. This year, the question of intercommunion is the order of the day as the next Kirchentag approaches. It is to take place from May 28 to June 1 and is expected to draw 150,000 people. As a result of “prudent” recommendations from the Episcopal Conference, there will be no intercommunion this year. But that doesn’t necessarily rule out anything in the future. In any case, many people seem to be well disposed to the idea.