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Look at method of saints to fund Multicultural Center Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009 -- 12:00 AM
To the editor:
It may be time to move past questions about the Catholic Multicultural Center’s closure to ask the more urgent question: how can we finance the CMC now? My modest proposal is to look to the method of the saints: do works of mercy, tell others about it, and pray.
Francis of Assisi did not need marketing consultants, corporate sponsorship, or an endowment to fund his charitable and church reform efforts.
But are not endowments, huge accumulations of wealth used to fund so many non-profit organizations by their interest income alone, a requirement of financial responsibility? The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, compiled in 2004, suggests otherwise. “Any type of improper accumulation is immoral, because it openly contradicts the universal destination [i.e. to all people on Earth] assigned to all goods by the Creator” (paragraph #328 of the Compendium).
Letting go of endowments and other secular methods of fundraising and embracing the saints’ way of financing works of mercy requires faith in the People of God. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it in his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well” (paragraph #18).
Pope Benedict also encourages us to look to the early Church and the saints for examples of how to put love into practice: “The figures of saints such as Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, Camillus of Lellis, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe B. Cottolengo, John Bosco, Luigi Orione, Teresa of Calcutta to name but a few — stand out as lasting models of social charity for all people of good will” (#40).
Though a great diversity of approaches is present in these examples, from the monks who used donations to build huge institutions to the early Franciscans who begged daily for their own food rather than save money overnight, none of these saints succumbed to secular marketing or financial advice and none of them relied on endowments (not least because interest income was prohibited by the Church from the First Council of Carthage in 345 until the 1830s).
Tim Huegerich, Madison