Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has urged his clergy to support only those charities whose work is compatible with Church teaching.
Bishop Egan wrote to his priests asking them to undertake a review of the charities they support by the end of the year.
In a letter he explained: “A number of people have asked me in the last couple of years since becoming bishop about third-party charities: which ones our parishes and the diocese itself can work with and support, and under what conditions.
“After a lot of discussion and reflection, and having sought advice from those both inside and outside the diocese, I have decided to issue the attached guidance.
“I am reluctant to burden you with yet more work but I would like to ask you to undertake a review of all the relationships your parish has with external charities,” the bishop said, asking for such a review to be done by the end of the year.
In his guidance notes Bishop Egan said parishes should avoid raising money for charities that “engage in or closely co-operate with” initiatives promoting artificial birth control or abortion.
Another example he gave was Confirmation candidates volunteering to help at a soup kitchen or to redecorate a shelter for ex-prisoners. In this particular case, the bishop said, the charity also distributed condoms and gave abortion advice as part of its Foodbank boxes. In order to avoid scandal, he said, such volunteering would “need to be accompanied by a clear public statement distancing the Confirmation candidates from these activities”.
In a third example Bishop Egan described a charity offering workshops on “domestic dispute resolution” to schools. In this case, he said, the charity had also won an award from Stonewall for its transgender programmes and work with same-sex couples.
He said that working with such a charity in a way that suggested an endorsement would constitute “formal co-operation in gravely immoral acts”. If it were “impossible to so dissociate the co-operation with the charity from these issues” or if the “charity itself is so influenced by them in its other activities or thinking [then] … the virtue of prudence would counsel against any co-operation with them”, the bishop concluded. Source
It seems clear to me that CAFOD is definitely in the frame (if only a Scots Bishop would similarly warn against Catholics supporting SCIAF) but why on earth doesn’t the Bishop go that extra mile and name them? All well and good alerting his priests to the importance of checking out charities but they should be given all the information available to educate themselves about the true nature of some of these organisations presenting themselves as “Catholic”. All too often these “charities” hold views and act contrary to Catholic teaching, particularly Catholic moral teaching. So, I’m giving the Bishop seven out of ten for writing to his bishops on this subject, but he doesn’t merit full marks for failing to spell out – literally – the names of the charities of concern. What about you – what mark do YOU give the Bishop out of ten?