Cuomo Chided on Conscience

NEW YORK POST, Dec. 18 — Former New York governor Mario Cuomo got an earful from his parish priest recently, columnist Rob Dreher reported in the New York daily.

Msgr. Michael J. Wrenn, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, sent Cuomo a private letter chastising him for his statements during his Dec. 10 CNN appearance. Msgr. Wrenn thought Cuomo might be encouraging electors pledged to President-elect George W. Bush to switch their votes to Vice President Al Gore, thus handing Gore the election. On CNN, Cuomo asked if it would be “legitimate” for Bush electors to “vote their conscience” and “change their mind.” Cuomo denied that he was encouraging Bush electors to go Democratic.

In 1984, Cuomo spoke at the University of Notre Dame, defending Catholic politicians who supported legal abortion. Dreher connected this incident to Cuomo's recent comments, writing that Cuomo “maintains that being true to one's conscience, not the church's moral norms, is the ultimate behavioral guide for individual Catholics.”

That's not so, Dreher said: “Catholics are obliged to live by different standards even if those standards do not suit the wishes of the Democratic Party.”

Should Catholics Start ‘E-Tithing’?

THE DETROIT NEWS, Dec. 15 — Some Michigan churches have begun “e-tithing” — allowing parishioners to donate money online via electronic funds transfers.

E-tithing gives churches a steady cash flow, even during winter and summer vacation seasons when parishioners may not be in their local pews. And churchgoers say they can focus more on the service when they don't have to fumble for a billfold.

In order to e-tithe, a parishioner must fill out a form indicating how much he wants taken from his bank account, how often, and when. After that, the funds are transferred automatically.

But Michael Murphy, development director for the archdiocese of Detroit, cautioned that “sacrificial giving through the offertory collection” is an important part of Mass. He explained that a Mass is an exchange of gifts: Participants receive God's word through readings and God's Son through the Eucharist. In return, they give God prayer, praise, adoration, and commitment — and give to the Church, through the collection basket.

Not all Catholics agree. Our Sunday Visitor, which supplies offering envelopes to Catholic parishes, plans to test-market a special envelope for e-tithers.

Philadelphia Holds Reconciliation 2000

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Dec. 9 — A hundred Catholic churches in the Philadelphia area offered the sacrament of reconciliation in December especially for those who have fallen away from the Church, the Philadelphia daily reported.

The effort was part of Reconciliation 2000, an archdiocesan effort to bring people back to the sacraments by offering two weeks of penance services. From Dec. 10 through 23, 100 of the archdiocese's parish churches offered the sacrament of reconciliation. On Dec. 23, priests heard confessions at all 283 parish churches.