ASK FATHER: Peter’s Pence these days. Alternatives?

From a reader…


I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning about how the Peter’s Pence collection largely funds the Vatican deficit. I am a stickler for finance and am forced to run a very lean household (single income in a high cost of living area) and expect that charitable groups and the Church should do the same. Is it acceptable to tithe to other religious orders or charities in place of the Church?

Yes.  Contribution to Peter’s Pence is entirely voluntary.  You can contribute to the good of the Church in other ways.

I will mention that, in justice, it is important to support the church where you receive services.  That’s only fair.

As far as other entities are concerned, you can choose as you please.   I hope it pleases you to choose also the TMSM.  I also like Military Chaplains.  I wouldn’t mind something thrown in my direction, either!

As far as Peter’s Pence is concerned, this gives us a chance to bone up on what it is.

The Supreme Pontiff can use the money that comes from the faithful for whatever reasons he desires.  I believe that it has mostly been used by Popes for poverty or disaster stricken groups or evangelization.   I supposed that the details are usually dealt with by the Papal Almoner and by the IOR (“Vatican bank”).

The Vatican’s description is HERE.

Here is an interesting drop down menu.

Interesting.  None of those are investments in movies about infamous homosexual Elton John.  Nor are they about investment in real estate in Chelsea, London. I guess they lost money on that.  I have to ask: How to you lose money on real estate in London?

Some people are noticing this Peter’s Pence thing.  Note below.

The Wikipedia article says:

In 1871, Pope Pius IX formalized the practice of lay members of Church and “other persons of good will” – providing financial support directly to the Roman See. In general, contributions go to the local parish or diocese, who then provide contributions to support higher level offices. Collections for Peter’s Pence go directly to Rome. Pius IX approved this practice in the encyclical Saepe venerabilis, issued on 5 August 1871. The money collected is today used by the pope for philanthropic purposes.

At present, this collection is taken each year on the Sunday closest to 29 June, the Solemnity of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the liturgical calendar. As of 2012, the United States has donated the largest amounts, giving some 28% of the total, followed by Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Brazil and South Korea. US donations totaled $75.8 million in 2008, $82,529,417 in 2009, $67,704,416.41 in 2010 and $69,711,722.76 in 2011.

I understand that Peter’s Pence is way down now.  The Wall Street Journal says:  “The assets of Peter’s Pence now total about €600 million, down from about €700 million early in the current pontificate, largely on account of unsuccessful investments, said the people familiar with the funds’ use.”  And, …

“But for at least the past five years, only about 10% of the money collected—more than €50 million was raised in 2018—has gone to the sort of charitable causes featured in advertising for the collection, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, about two-thirds of the money has been used to help cover the budget deficit at the Holy See, these people said. The Holy See consists of the central administration of the Catholic Church and the papal diplomatic network around the world. In 2018, the budget deficit reached roughly €70 million on total spending of about €300 million, reflecting chronic inefficiencies, rising wage costs and hits to investment income.

Donations to Peter’s Pence have dropped notably in recent years, to over €50 million in 2018 from over €60 million in 2017, these people said.

This is a rather grim situation.

We are obliged to support the Church and her work with material means.  However, contributions to Peter’s Pence are always voluntary.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    If it is a matter of prudence and justice toward those over whom my care is responsible as a father that I should spend and save thoughtfully and carry a balanced budget, I must say I expect the same out of the Vatican as an exemplar of justice and grace in the world. I can be generous in my tithing because I am responsible with what the Lord has given me. I too could spend that 10% on nonsense and run a deficit quite easily.

    I’m going the subsidiarity route and supporting my local Church with expenditure/use limitations as protected by canon law. I’d rather give to well run secular charities that feed local poor people than the CCHD or any other large “catholic” front organization. Not giving to big business “catholicism” anymore. Not Peter’s Pence, not the USCCB, not anymore. The USCCB can keep getting its money from its master the Democratic party and parrot their ideas on gun and border control. Rome can fund it’s own gratuitously secular homosexual sex scene movies, chummy deals with Netlfix gay jesus promoters, Pachamama worship productions, poor real estate investments, homosexual predator payouts, drug fueled homosexual orgies, and other clearly important deficit line items with someone else’s money. I’m out.

  2. Imrahil says:

    I am a stickler for finance and am forced to run a very lean household (single income in a high cost of living area) and expect that charitable groups and the Church should do the same.

    And there, I am sorry to say, the questioner is wrong. I did not know the word “stickler”, but apparently it is a synonyme of “pedant” and that’s the exaggeration in the other direction. The Church should deal with money diligently, but wouldn’t be necessary and, while not necessarily sinful, in fact rather wrong if she were pedantic about it.

    And why should the Church run a lean household? In fact, it was the pride of ancient Romans when they were (relatively) poor so that the Republic might be rich; at least that was the ideal; – is that so wrong a sentiment if translated to the supernatural sphere?

    Is it acceptable to tithe to other religious orders or charities in place of the Church?

    “Tithing” refers to a specific practice (having to do with the fraction “one tenth”) which isn’t even obligatory at all. But, though the question was “ask father”, the answer is “yes of course”, especially given that the diocesan bishop has the right to tax religious orders and such-like institutions to correct problematic apportionments of money that might ensue.

    (In principle. In practice almost all religious orders are Papal orders, and they are exempt because they are, well, Papal; but that’s how in principle it works. And the Pope still could order Papal orders to give their money to needy dioceses.)

    – Then, in itself, keeping up the Vatican administration, including nunciatures and typewriters (or, hopefully, computers) is a worthy charitable cause, of course. Or would be, in normal times (I will not go into detail).

  3. In other words, Peter’s Pence is in the hands of crooks and incompetents. Some of the money is even finding its way to enemies of the Church. So then it would seem to be our duty as faithful Catholics NOT to contribute to Peter’s Pence until it cleans up its act.

    I will be keeping my donations at the very local level, and even then they will be earmarked for specific purposes, lest the sweat of my brow end up benefitting the crooks and incompetents in the upper echelons.

  4. robtbrown says:

    Contributions to Clear Creek Monastery are a good option.

  5. Ave Maria says:

    Peter’s Pence is a joke and the funds are in the hands of unscrupulous people. Like some other ‘charities’, the funds are not helping the ‘poor’. Will avoid ever contributing as long as the present unsavory ones are in charge. There are plenty of worthwhile true charities locally and abroad to contribute to.

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    This is the one thing we have that they want, money. It’s the one thing that gets their attention and we ought to be as careful as we possibly can about where it goes. A certain amount that we give to the parish goes to the diocese and the Vatican. I do not know if it is possible to have an exemption, say, you do not want any of your money to go to the diocese and Vatican. Fr. Z. knows about that I’m sure. But the safer route is don’t give them money except for the running of the parish you attend. Certainly not Peter’s Pence. Certainly not CCHD. Certainly not Catholic Charities. Not anymore.
    When the money dries up and priests are out in the fields saying Mass, we will have holy priests again.

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