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Pastores Dabo Vobis

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53 PM
Feast of Pope Saint Clement
Month of the Faithful Departed
My brother bishops, priests, and deacons:
Thanksgiving blessings! I praise God with and for you. I thank you for the men you are for Jesus and His Church . . . and for
me, your pastor.
This is a good time to consider stewardship . . . which is a euphemism for writing you about money!
Seriously, this touching national holiday prompts us to gratitude for God’s abundant blessings, to acknowledge that all we have
comes from a provident God, inspiring us to gratitude, and a sense of duty to share what God has generously given us with
others. That’s the biblical virtue of stewardship. It’s more than constantly asking for cash . . . it’s the promotion of a virtue.
A tidy place to start this piece is by thanking you for your fine sense of stewardship. I am amazed at the generosity of
our bishops, priests, and deacons. Not only do you preach it well, encouraging your folks to generosity to the Church,
but you practice it.
To the good number of you who make sacrificial offerings to your own parish’s Renew and Rebuild Capital Campaign
now going on; to the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal; to the recently completed Cardinal Egan Pavilion; to our
Cathedral Campaign; to Catholic Charities; our seminary, your alma mater; to our schools . . . to say nothing of the
missions and other causes of assistance to the Church; and the number of priests who so thoughtfully remember the
archdiocese and its multiple causes in their wills . . . thanks for your stewardship!
Thank you for your support of regional schools through the parish assessment totaling $9.2 million and also for paying
your consolidated bill in a timely fashion. My appreciation to those many pastors who unselfishly shared a portion of
their former school lease payments to fund much needed scholarships. I want to commend those pastors who responded
to the opportunity of an increased offertory campaign which in many cases resulted in proceeds sufficient to cover their
Cathedraticum and regional school assessment.
Yet, I must admit that I hear some grumbling, natural I suppose, whenever we talk of money. You as pastors never relish talking
to your sheep about it, yet, you have to . . . and your people roll their eyes and mutter, “There he goes again, always talking
about money.” And I, as your pastor, never savor talking about money, but, I, too, have to . . . and then many of you do the eye
roll and groan, “He’s taking our money again.”
I joke that I usually hear my priests and people make two comments about the archdiocese:
Comment #1: “That archdiocese never stops! All they care about is money! They keep thinking of ways to take our
money that should stay in my pocket, my parish, my chosen causes. Let up and leave us alone!”
Comment #2: “The archdiocese needs to pay for more things!”
Let me give you an example from a recent meeting.
A pastor - - one of our best - - made two statements, in thoughtful response to my remarks that I had to make sure the
archdiocese was not too intrusive into parish life and finances.
Comment #1: “You’re right! We’re tired of the archdiocese always interfering! We’re tired of too much money
going to 1011! Leave us alone and let us keep our money to do our work!” Applause . . .
Comment #2: “A real need is vibrant youth ministry in our parishes, and for us to hire competent youth
ministers. Could the archdiocese pay for these?” Applause . . .

Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes!
When I listen to you and your people, I usually hear you praise the archdiocese for its many initiatives, but also asking us to do
even more for what we already got going, and to add more causes and needs the archdiocese should subsidize. Then I hear you
claim, “You ask us for money too much!”
You face the same thing: “Can’t the parish pay for this?”, then from the same folks, “Why are you always asking us for money?”
As you reply to them, I respond to you: where do we get the money?
Almost eight-years ago, when I arrived, my predecessor told me, “One of your curses will be the perception that the archdiocese
is rich. But, we’re not! If we did not have the generosity of people from outside the archdiocese, from New Jersey, Connecticut,
and Long Island, we’d be sunk!”

That misconception - - that the “fat archdiocese” is rolling in dough - - may explain why so many expect the archdiocese
to pay for more and more things, but not to raise money.
As I trust is clear from the financial statements I started publishing annually seven years ago, we’re not rich. In fact, as
you’ve noticed, we run a deficit in our annual operating expenses, a flaw we’ve made continual progress in correcting,
as my excellent Archdiocesan Finance Council keeps hounding me.
But what about property and investments, you may ask?
Investments? Thank God we have some, but almost all are designated for specific apostolates such as
education, the seminary, charities, or healthcare.
Property? A lot, but the vast majority hardly belongs to the archdiocese, but to parishes and religious orders, is
being used, and is not for sale!
So, how does this “bloated, money-grabbing archdiocese” GET its money?
From the Cathedraticum, or archdiocesan tax of 8%, which, at $16 million a year, is rather low when compared to other
dioceses;
From the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal, which this year will bring in $21 million. (For that I’m grateful,
although you have heard me observe that, if the people of this archdiocese gave to the Appeal in the same proportion as
the people did in my home and previous archdioceses, St. Louis and Milwaukee, our annual Appeal would bring in over
$60 million!)
From the taxa of 50% levied on extraordinary windfalls in a parish coming from bequests, air rights, or sale/rental of
property, a custom of nearly half-century begun by Cardinal Terrence Cooke.
Finally, from special gifts and drives, such as our St. Patrick’s Cathedral Campaign, our current Renew and Rebuild
Capital Campaign, the present campaigns of Catholic Charities and our Inner City Catholic Schools, a second collection
annually for the seminary, and some - - not enough! - - bequests and special gifts.
There’s where the money comes from. Where does it GO?
Back out to our parishes, schools, and ministries! Listening to some grousing, you’d think I kept it all under my bed, or bought
Cuban cigars and aged Irish whiskey with it! No! We give it back out to you! And, I’m glad we can! We should!
One big example: last year, through the Inter-Parish Fund (IPF), the “nasty, mean money grabbing diocese” gave out
$5.5 million to parishes in need, $7 million in financial assistance to regional schools, and $2.7 million in subvention
agreements for necessary capital repairs that the parishes cannot afford. Do the math: there goes the entire money given
the archdiocese through the Cathedraticum. Cardinal Cooke, in creating IPF, intended only a portion of the
Cathedraticum to be used for this purpose, not all of it. Until our recent school-and parish-planning programs, even the
entire Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal was used to cover IPF and subvention agreements! At least that has
stopped.
Hold on! Some contend that the “conniving archdiocese” changed its policy for the IPF. The nice archdiocese, in the good old
days, used to give away IPF grants; now the “stingy archdiocese” only gives it with unjust strings attached; namely, that if the
parish comes into big money (sale or rental of buildings or bequests), they have to pay us back!
To that I reply: Remember, if the parish needs the extraordinary income to survive, we do not hold them to the
obligation. Add to that, if a parish that comes into some money does not return what it has gotten to IPF, the
fund will soon dry up. Then what? What causes some griping is our requirement that a parish receiving
extraordinary income from such things as air rights, rental/lease/sale of buildings and property, or a big bequest,
must give 50% of that to the “rich old archdiocese!”
Now, in this regard, I hear two different choirs from our priests!
Choir One would be the pastors of the few parishes who are blessed with income from air rights, rentals, leases, sales, or
bequests. This minority will argue the money is theirs! They need it! It belongs to the parish! It’s unjust to give it
away to the archdiocese! Our people can’t stand the archdiocese! Leave us alone!
As mentioned before, of course, there are indeed some cases where the individual parish desperately needs such
extraordinary income, and the pastors there will tell you, I trust, that the archdiocese accommodates them. After
all, if we did not, that parish would go on IPF, and the “crabby archdiocese” would be paying their bills again.
Choir Two would be the majority of pastors who rejoice in this archdiocesan custom of the 50% extraordinary tax on
parishes with large income beyond the Sunday offertory, because then this bounty can be shared.

“Why,” they ask, “should these parishes, mostly Manhattan ones, keep all this money to fix-up rectories, decorate
churches, pay choirs and staffs, when I can’t even repair the boiler for lack of funds!”
“Isn’t it true,” they ask, “that the ordinary expenses of the parish should be covered by the Sunday offerings, not by
rental or endowment money? If a parish can’t cover its bills from the Sunday contributions of their people,
because few go there anymore, that means we’re propping up museums with gravy income that should justly be
spent elsewhere, and the parish should fold-up.”
“Why,” this majority choir of priests goes on, “should old parishes with dwindling congregations be allowed to use
rental money from buildings and property given by people generations ago that was intended for our schools,
charities, healthcare, sisters, and priests? For them to use this just to stay afloat, while today’s heirs to that past
goodness of our people - - our school kids, our people in huge parishes with the need for more buildings and
apostolates, our old priests who put the buildings up, and the aged sisters - - can’t even repair the roof for lack of
funds, or live in dignity, and depend upon the archdiocese for help, is not fair.”
To these priests, I reply, such questions may be harsh . . . but, they’re fair enough.
Let me bring up two overarching challenges:
(1) The first overarching problem: I keep asking, are we Catholics, or Congregationalists? As the late Cardinal Francis George
used to comment, we’re becoming Congregationalists with incense!
A Congregationalist will identify the Church with his own parish, or her own charitable, personal cause. All money is
local, and stays right here. “Dolan, go get your own money! This is our own!”
A Catholic realizes the Church is always beyond us, universal, without boundaries. Yes, we have an understandable,
laudable personal allegiance to our parish, but as Catholics, we also love our archdiocese and the worldwide Church.
So, an obligation of any diocesan priest, or any religious order priest assigned as a pastor of a parish, is to encourage his
people to “look beyond” parochial needs to the wider Church, because we’re Catholics, not Congregationalists. We
belong not just to a parish, but to a diocese and a Church universal.
Recently, a group of effective pastors shared with us their comments on our current Renew and Rebuild Capital
Campaign, which they reported as going rather well.
However, they noted, their hardest task was to answer their people who, while enthusiastic about the 74% of the take
staying in the parish, were upset that 26% had to go to the “nasty archdiocese.” “What does the archdiocese do for us,
anyway?” their people asked. I asked if they explained the needs of the archdiocese to their complaining people, or
reminded them that they, as Catholics, had a duty to the wider Church, or that the 26% of the archdiocesan take was, in
fact, going back out to needy parishes, grade and high schools, retired priests, the seminary, and Catholic Charities (and,
yes, some to “Dolan’s Folly,” the repair of that Cathedral!)? The priests admitted they were a bit shy about doing that.
But why would we be?

(2) The second overarching problem: We’re afraid to challenge our people to stewardship. But, these are folks who give to all
kinds of causes, political candidates, their colleges, boy and girl scouts, parks, fighting cancer, dog shelters, and I’m glad
they do all that. But why then are we timid about challenging them to fulfill their biblical duty to support, to the point of
sacrifice, the Church - - parish, archdiocese, and wider Church?
“Oh, my people are tired of giving,” I hear from many of you. “No, this isn’t a good time to push for more generosity to
the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal, or to launch Renew and Rebuild.”
When is a good time? We’ve been hearing “not now” for decades! There’s never a good time to ask for sacrificial
generosity. What about parishes with massive debts, who owe the “mooching archdiocese” a lot of money? “Oh, it’s
tough to ask my people for money to pay off debts! We have enough trouble just staying afloat!”
Really? Our good people spend most of their paycheck paying off their own legitimate debts, so why should paying off
their communal one be different?
And what do I say to good pastors asking the archdiocese for a loan so they can build a much-needed new church, or
expand their inadequate one? I can’t loan them money because parishes now enjoying beautiful new churches, or major
repairs, thanks to past archdiocesan loans, aren’t paying them back, so there is no cash to loan.
Why are we afraid to urge our people to sacrificial generosity? Why are we content to “get by” or live off the past
largesse of previous generations - - whose pastors did challenge them? The Evangelicals sure demand stewardship! The
Mormons sure do! Our Jewish Synagogues do! Planned Parenthood sure pushes its donors! The secular causes sure
do!
Do we or do we not believe our sacred mission is worth the sacrifice?
Do we or do we not believe in the biblical virtue of stewardship?

(3) The third overarching problem: a mistrust of, and antagonism towards, the archdiocese. I hate to admit this, but I hear it’s
true.
We in the archdiocese have no money other than what our people give us. Same is true for our parishes. But, I have to
admit that there is a lot of suspicion and mistrust of the archdiocese, and people do not want to give. Yes, they’ll give to
“causes” - - Catholic Charities, our schools, the seminary, to name a few, and I’m grateful they do, but not to that “damn
archdiocese,” - - without which we would not have those causes!
We in the “stingy archdiocese” don’t put the money under the mattress, but give it back out to you, either in cash, or to
subsidize archdiocesan ministries you tell us you critically need.
When a pastor tells me, “I find it hard to explain to my people why the archdiocese is always second-guessing parish
expenditures, or not giving me permission to spend money on a given project,” I want to introduce him to the parish
priest who just left my office after asking, “My people want to know why the archdiocese allowed my predecessor to
spend all the savings and waste all their money. Why weren’t you watching?”
When a pastor complains, “Why does the archdiocese interfere with my right to contract for repairs and new initiatives,
making us submit bids and have them all reviewed,” I want him to meet the one who just left my office after telling me,
“I’m afraid I need help from the archdiocese, because we got ripped-off on a project that I’m embarrassed to confess I
undertook without approval.”
To help correct this unfair and inaccurate perception of the archdiocese as some bloated, money-grabbing corporation,
we are seriously looking into smaller quarters. 1011 needs repair, and it’s a good time to save the money and help with
a new image by moving into smaller, simpler quarters.
The archdiocese is far from perfect, and I welcome fair, balanced criticism. But it seems to me we have a “blame the
archdiocese first” attitude.
Thanks for listening! Sorry I went on for so long. What I most hear from you, and from brother bishops, is the burden of
money, administration, finances, raising funds, managing personnel. I agree!
The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of you are both good preachers, and good practitioners, of sound
stewardship and exceptionally loyal to the archdiocese and its needs.
We’re in it together, brothers. I trust you! I need you! I love you! I thank you! We’re all in it for Jesus, His Church, our good
people, not for ourselves!
You can tell I’m sensitive about this. I’m not complaining . . . I’m challenging! I’m not griping . . . I’m grateful.
A blessed Thanksgiving and Advent!

Fraternally in Christ,

Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

P.S. Advent Day of Recollection - December 7, 2016 -10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Advent Reconciliation Monday - December 19, 2016
And our parish missions!