Wednesday, 12 October 2011

How generous is the church really?

In response to the recent report that the church is broke and getting broker by the minute, lots of people have spoken out in defence of the church, saying how it takes care of the old, orphans etc. However when I looked at the accounts published recently I was struck by the fact that these actually form a very small percentage of the church's expenses. In fact, the Pope's visit of last year cost 6.6 times as much as all children's homes combined.

The church's income comes primarily from donations, collections etc. I wonder whether the people making the donations are thinking that they are donating towards orphanages and homes. Do they know that, if they donated €50 last year, €2 from that went to finance the pope's visit, compared to the 30 cents that went to children's homes, or the 38 cents that went to old people's homes?

The church is not generous. Nor is it ungenerous. The church is an organiser - it collects money and redistributes it. The generosity comes from the Maltese people - they're the ones who earned the money. They hear of poor people and they donate. They donate to a church charity just as they donate to L-Istrina and to the Inspire foundation and other worthy causes.

If I found out that one of the secular humanitarian charities I donate to spent €1 million out of a grand total of €26 million to send their CEO on a trip somewhere, I'd immediately stop patronising them because I'd feel that they had betrayed their mission. If they spent 1.5 times as much on the media as they spend on the homes I'd say they have their priorities wrong.

I'd also say that if someone wants to help the needy, there are better entities than the church to ensure that your money is primarily used for that purpose.