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Kevin Terry wrote:

Mike,

  • What does the Church teach about tithing, or do you know where in the Catechism, it speaks about tithing?
  • Are we supposed to give 10% to the Church, or 10% to God?
  • I mean can we give:
    • 5% to the Church
    • 3% to a Catholic charity, and
    • 2% to EWTN?
  • How does this work?

Thanks again,

Your Catholic protégé in Kentucky

  { What does the Church teach about tithing? }

Mike replied:

Hi Kevin,

To my surprise the word tithing is not in the Catechism or at least I didn't find it in a web search
I did on the Catechism. I'm going to give you my answer and let my colleagues and priest-friends pitch their two cents in as well.

My answer:

  • What do you give?

Tithing (10%) is a good thing to do, if you can do it. See Malachi 3:8-15. St. Paul says we are free from the law, and should, if possible, give generously, even out of our need.

Nevertheless, there is no teaching or Church law that pertains to tithing. You should do the best you can to support your parish and the Church in time, treasure and talents. If you read Paul's writings in 2 Corinthians, Chapters 8 and 9 you will get his view when he addressed the Catholic Church in Corinth.

  • Where do you give?

We have a primary responsibility to support the local Catholic community to which the Lord has called us, so a good percentage of that 10 percent minimum should be given to the local Church community to support the priests, Catholic education, CCD, other ministry activities, and especially outreach to other non-Catholic people.

Still, EWTN and Catholic Charities are excellent places to send the remaining donations, because neither dissent from the teachings of the Church and both are loyal to the Magisterium. I believe Catholic Charities has the lowest percentage of administrative overhead compared to other charities, just 2%!

If one is unsure about whether one should give to a Catholic organization or not, [he/she] should check and investigate the organization first. Sadly to say, there are some organizations at the academic level that claim to be Catholic, but scandalize the Faithful by what they allow.

Giving to any other non-Catholic group is fine as well, if it is to support ministries, like Soup Kitchens, and not doctrinal ministries within another religion, like the Salvation Army, which is a religion . . . founded by William Booth in 1865.

If you are unsure, check them out first!

Hope this helps,

Happy Easter to you and the Terry Family,

Mike

Eric replied:

I think the sum total of what the Church teaches about this is in Canon Law:

Canon 222

§1. 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.

§2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.

I agree with the 10% minimum philosophy. My own policy is to give 5% to my parish and 5% to other charities of my choosing. One time, I tried matching luxury purchases with a donation above and beyond my tithe to the poor, i.e., if I spent $100 on some luxury item, give $100 to the poor. Then things got a bit tight, so I dropped that, but I plan to go back to it.

A lot of people get hung up over the tithe, and argue it's a part of the Old Testament law and doesn't have to be followed. Fine — don't consider it a law, consider it a rule of thumb. Others get fixated on how it should be a minimum, not a maximum. Fine, but you can't give 100% — how much do you give? This is when I came up with the luxury match policy. I'm willing to call it a minimum, but I'm not willing to lay a guilt trip on people if they use 10% as a goal. Frankly, so few people give so much money to the Lord that it seems obscene to chastise people for not giving more than 10%.

Also, I give 10% of gross as defined by the IRS. In other words, you can exclude your 401(k) contributions (this gives you something to contribute when you are retired), but don't exclude taxes. God gets the first fruits, not what's left over.

And never forget, God loves a cheerful giver. If you're giving out of compulsion or giving is generating resentment, maybe it's time to regroup and try to adjust your attitude.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Kevin,

The citation of Canon Law expresses the Church's teaching, which is that we are to support the Church (local and world, including missionary work) and help the poor (Church and other charities, and personal charity, including that which is non-deductible — like family aid), and be generous.

Applying this teaching in the old days, when most parents sent their children to a Catholic school (which also supported the religious who taught there), the Church said that school tuition would be considered part of your charity. The Church, from New Testament times, never put down a percentage, but always left things to a person's conscience, inspiration, prudence, and generosity. The Church itself should learn to trust Providence, and not engage in so much pledging and percentage gauging. The best parish I ever attended was one in which the priests hardly ever asked for money, but gave everything essential away, asking only for whatever offering you could afford. They gave Bibles to the whole parish, Lourdes water, donuts and coffee....The people were happy to give over and above, and knew they weren't judged by their donation or non-donation.

Now, there is no trust in God or in people. Everything is budgeted, and kids are even charged for CCD (which I think is against Canon Law). You even get overtly charged for Baptism and Matrimony. The amount is up to you, but strongly suggested. Very sad. To fight the CEO mentality, we give cash. Of course, everywhere I look, only the wealthy are friends of the clergy now.

Very sad.

Mary Ann
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