tithing time

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An article in The Tablet reports the following challenge by the Bishop of Portsmouth to the Catholics in his diocese, “I would like to invite every Catholic to consider tithing, that is donating 10 per cent of your time and talents to Christ’s service, especially the care of the needy,” Bishop Philip Egan wrote in a pastoral letter for Trinity Sunday, “It would be good if every pastoral area engaged in local works of charitable assistance, thus giving witness that the Jesus we love in the Eucharist is the Jesus we love in the poor.”

A great challenge, I thought. True Christian stewardship entails the sharing of time, talent and treasures. This is a more holistic approach than simply digging into our pockets for a financial donation. So, how much time would this entail?

I pulled out my calculator and began punching in numbers. Ten percent of ALL our time would be 16.8 hours a week. Not practical. Let’s take eight hours of sleep a night out of the equation. Ten percent of 112 hours a week is 11.2 hours tithed to charitable work; still not do-able for most. If we just take a normal 40 hour work week, ten percent would be a commitment of 4 hours a week. This, perhaps, is more manageable; if you are not already overwhelmed with work and family responsibilities.

I’ve always struggled with the concept of tithing as a flat rate, percentage calculation that doesn’t take into account the personal needs and responsibilities of each giver. A single person and a family of five can earn an equal salary. In each case, ten percent of that equal salary is not equal in sacrificial value. The same is true of our time.

Bishop Egan’s invitation to live gospel generosity in concrete works is a worthy and much needed message. The use of the concept of tithing makes for a good head-line, but the reality is that each person and each family has unique stresses and demands on their time, treasure and talents. These demands change through different life stages. Heck, they can change from week to week and day to day.

Time is one of our most precious commodities. We all have to discern wisely how to be good stewards with what has been given to us. God bless those who are able to give, and give generously. God bless even more those who give generously from limited resources.

cardinal turkson connects social doctrine to new evangelization in africa

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana

Today’s Africa proof the old evangelization worked.

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered the Martin Royakers Lecture on September 26 at the Regis College chapel in Toronto. While in Canada, he gave an exclusive interview to The Catholic Register.

Describing the growth of the Catholic Church in Africa, Turkson noted that the old evangelization worked. But, this doesn’t mean that Africa does not need a new evangelization.

The Catholic Church in Africa was experiencing great growth around the time of the Second Vatican Council, a time when many African countries were also gaining independence from colonialism. “The educated elite, the educated class that emerged in the emerging states, mostly was educated in mission schools,” explained Turkson. Sadly, this also included corrupt politicians like President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. “That has caused several Church leaders in Africa to sit back and think, ‘What did we do wrong?’ ”

Today, the Catholic Church in Africa is also competing with the more personal, emotive form of faith found in Pentecostal communities.

Cardinal Turkson believes that teaching the catechism and baptizing people is not enough.

What’s missing in the merely intellectual and notional religion of Africa’s leaders and the purely personal religion of the poor is the social doctrine of the Church, Turkson said.

“But their social consciousness, what we now call the social doctrine of the Church, wasn’t taught much. That was missing. People became Christians but the transition — the fact they were Christian — did not impact much on their social lives. That is something we are now discovering.”

He proposes some simple solutions,

“We need to find a way of bringing it down to basically these needs — to people’s life situations,” he said. “All of that serves as vehicles of God’s grace.”

He believes Catholic parish life has to afford people more opportunities to bear witness and testify to their faith.

“The world is now looking for witnesses,” he said. “We don’t make it alive. We don’t make it come alive in such a way that it encourages them, motivates them, touches their lives in faith. It would be great if we fashioned a little space in our worship for moments like that.”


BBC News – Tax havens: Super-rich ‘hiding’ at least $21tn

A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study.

The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.

The Price of Offshore Revisited was written by James Henry, a former chief economist at the consultancy McKinsey, for the Tax Justice Network.

via BBC News – Tax havens: Super-rich ‘hiding’ at least $21tn.

Today’s first reading contained the much loved line by all social justice proponents…

and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6: 8)

To do justice requires that all of God’s people are cared for and allowed to live a life of dignity and peace. The above story from BBC shows how great is the financial injustice in the world. The reality that a mere handful of persons holds this amount of wealth is bad enough. The fact that such an unbelievable amount is stashed away in safe havens, evading the social responsibility of taxes is completely incomprehensible.

The money comes from both developed and under-developed countries. The payment of fair taxes on such massive amounts could help turn around some national economies. Taxes pay not only for health care, education and social services. They also allow countries to pay down national debts. Yet, the wealthy continue to lobby politicians for tax laws that benefit them. Or shield their funds in off shore accounts.

Tax evasion by the wealthy is not only despicable, it is truly sinful. Shame on all who have hoards of money hidden away. And shame on all the banks, lawyers, and accountants who make it possible.

On the plus side the article points out that there is a nice stash of money that, if used properly, has the potential to help the world’s failing economy. Here’s hoping some wise governmental leaders and economists go after it.

The four minute video of the BBC interview with James Henry, the author of the study, is worth listening to.