To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY PHIL LENAHAN
I have been tithing for years and receive many requests for financial
assistance from different ministries and apostolates.
While I give to our parish and Catholic apostolates,
I also give to a number of non-Catholic ministries. Is this appropriate — or
should my donations be reserved solely for Catholic organizations?
Once we begin tithing, one of the
great joys — and responsibilities — is in determining who should receive our
gift. I remember the story of the founder of a Fortune 500 company who donated
half of his income to charitable causes. He felt one of his greatest
responsibilities was how he managed the allocation of those funds.
As to whether we should reserve
our tithe only for Catholic organizations, let’s review what the Code of Canon
Law says. In section 222, we read: “The Christian faithful are obliged to
assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary
for divine worship, for apostolic works and works of charity and for the decent
sustenance of ministers. They are also obliged to promote social justice and,
mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own
Certainly a good portion of our tithe
should be reserved for specifically Catholic purposes, especially for divine
worship. However, we are not excluded from using a portion for non-Catholic
Before you decide to support a
non-Catholic ministry, you’ll want to ask yourself whether there is any aspect
of the ministry’s outreach that is contrary to Catholic teaching. Let’s use a
couple of examples to clarify how we should make this decision.
I have served on the board of
directors of our local crisis-pregnancy center. While the organization is
non-denominational, its work clearly advances the culture of life. This is an
example where it would be good to offer support to a non-Catholic ministry.
On the other hand, there may be
popular non-Catholic television or radio ministries you consider to be
inspiring or informative. While many of these accomplish a great deal of good,
some teach doctrines that are not in harmony with our Catholic faith. For
example, some promote a “once saved, always saved” understanding of salvation.
Once you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, they say, nothing you
do afterwards can keep you from reaching heaven — not even committing serious
sins. Obviously, this contradicts Catholic teachings on the matter.
Such ministries may well be
helping to build the social and moral fabric of our American culture — but
they’re also putting souls at risk and implicitly tearing at the integrity of
the Body of Christ. You would do wrong to lend them your support.
Before you decide to give to a
non-Catholic ministry, I would encourage you to search for a Catholic
organization involved in similar work. You’ll find religious orders, outreaches
in media, programs to assist the poor and other apostolates
that follow the magisterial teaching of the Church and are worthy of your
God love you!
Phil Lenahan is the author of The Catholic Answers
Guide to Family Finances. To bring his seminar to
or parish, visit catholic.com/seminars.