US priests pressured as abuse scandal hits parish pockets

US priests pressured as abuse scandal hits parish pockets Fr John Hollowell of The Annunciation, Brazil, Indiana

US Catholic priests are feeling the pinch as many say they have experienced a drop in Church collections after several sex abuse reports and scandals levelled at high ranking prelates in the country have affected parishioners’ willingness to donate.

A priest from the Annunciation Church in Brazil, Indiana, has said he noticed “a pretty sharp decline” in parish weekend collections last summer, when the national clergy sex abuse crisis exploded anew with revelations that former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was alleged to have harassed and molested minors and seminarians several decades ago.

Fr Hollowell says he has had to cut 25% of his two parishes’ operating budgets for the fiscal year.

“McCarrick and friends are coming home to roost in fiscal year 2019-2020 at a parish near you,” Fr Hollowell wrote to his 8,800 Twitter followers.

“I totally get why people are doing that. For many people, money is the last form of protest they have to speak to Church authorities,” he said.

Across the country, other Catholic parishes have seen fewer people donating to the Sunday collections in recent months. In some parishes, the faithful have continued to contribute to their regular collections in order to keep the lights on, but have withheld money from collections designated for their dioceses or the national bishops’ conference.

“People love their parish, but they’ve lost trust in the bishops,” said Fr Jay Mello, the pastor of two urban parishes in Fall River, Massachusetts. Fr Mello said many parishioners have told him they give less to the second collections that go to the diocese or national organisations.