Considering the financial prospects of the Ordinariate

Maurice Carter urges those interested in the ordinariate to consider its financial requirements and begin to plan and organize the means for raising the needed funds

 

In assessing the health of a church, sensible people look at vocations, attendance and other indicators, not least of which is money. The churches, both Anglican and Roman, seem reluctant to talk about it. It is said that various dioceses of both denominations are bankrupt, or would be if they were obliged to make full disclosure of their assets and liabilities as any other business has to do. The churches much enjoy condemning businessmen but are remarkably coy about their own financial health.

Forget them, for the moment. What about the ordinariate? Those interested in it, just like the churches, talk about the theology, the ecclesiology, practical questions about how many clergy and laity will join, and what problems they might have, questions about church property and church law, but not, as far as I have read, about the money. Where all I want is the business plan? Is there one? If not, this is not just a financial mistake but a  moral one.

Three money questions

The money issue is not only important but urgent. There are three money questions. What will the ordinariate need money for? Where might it get it? What chance does it have of getting the money it needs? These all depend on the sort of body it becomes. At present, gossip suggests that a fair number of clergy will join, though in a stream rather than all at once. A few parishes will join en bloc. Comparatively few individual laity will join, at least in the early years. The clergy, in particular may have problems of housing, incomes and pensions. Both clergy and laity may lack church buildings. No doubt one could think of all sorts of other problems.

The point is that, fairly obviously, money is the solution to many of these problems. Money can help clergy in financial straits after leaving their former church. Money can rent buildings. It can also buy transport for a dispersed clergy and laity to get to and from buildings more distant than those currently used. No doubt one could think about all sorts of other things for which money will be needed; all I want to establish is that money will be needed on a serious scale. And the matter is not only important but urgent.

Three possible sources

This money might come from three sources. Laity, and some clergy, joining the ordinariate should be made aware that they should support it financially according to their means. This principle is widely understood in the Roman Catholic church, though not always honoured in practice. In that church, as in the CofE, there is disproportionate reliance on dead money – bequests. However, there is reason to think that the whole process of leaving one church for another will sift the laity, so that those who do join will be people who have worked hard for their church in the past and given disproportionately much. So the lay members of the ordinariate may make up for their small numbers in their quality as active church members and generous donors.

The reason this source of funds is urgent is that right from the beginning it ought to be spelt out that this new body expects its members to be generous, even before they join. Indeed just as the number of those joining affects the level of income, so the expected income will affect the number of those joining. You have to be a particularly holy sort of fool to join an institution financially unable to survive or, worse, so indifferent to matters financial that it will actively court collapse. ey will be Second there will be donations from institutions. The ordinariate will be a registered charity. It may in addition set up a fund-raising arm as a separate charity. Charities may give to other charities if the aims of the recipient charity are within those of the donor. The Anglo-Catholic movement is not poor. Its churches, trusts, Societies and other institutions have funds which will be large from the point of view of the initially small ordinariate. There is a legal task to be done in determining how existing AC charities might support the ordinariate.

Serious fund raising

Last, the ordinariate’s fund raising body will do what all other charitable bodies do and set about identifying possible individual donors and approaching them. Will this be successful? It could be very successful and comparatively easy. Experienced fund raisers know that you need two conditions to raise money, a list of clearly identifiable possible donors who have given to other causes in the past and a clear, unusual and in this case new cause. It is difficult to think of a cause as attractive as this. It has no competitors. It has strong emotional and intellectual appeal and the donor will get ‘a lot of bangs’ for comparatively few ‘bucks’. With some already assured funding the cause will be able to offer matching donations.

Without delay, a charitable fund raising arm of the ordinariate should be set up and start work. It is a fine act of the Sovereign Pontiff to offer the ordinariate. It will be equally fine of those who set it up and join it. But while it is fine to will the end, it is fine too to will the means. Money is one of the means. Recognizing its importance and raising it is God’s work. ND

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