Tuesday 6 December 2016

Catholic diocese accused of hijacking Ukraine collection

Sarah Mac Donald

Published 23/04/2016 | 02:30

At the beginning of April, Pope Francis asked every Catholic church in Europe to take up a special collection for the people of war-torn Ukraine on 24 April. Photo: Reuters
At the beginning of April, Pope Francis asked every Catholic church in Europe to take up a special collection for the people of war-torn Ukraine on 24 April. Photo: Reuters

The country's largest Catholic diocese has been accused of hijacking the Pope's special collection for humanitarian relief in Ukraine which takes place in parishes across Ireland and Europe this weekend.

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At the beginning of April, Pope Francis asked every Catholic church in Europe to take up a special collection for the people of war-torn Ukraine on 24 April.

Encouraging the faithful to make a generous contribution to the collection, the Pontiff explained on 3 April: "This gesture of charity, in addition to relieving material suffering, is intended to express my personal closeness and solidarity, and that of the entire Church, for Ukraine."

However, in the archdiocese of Dublin, parishes have been told to divide contributions made to the second collection between the Pope's special Ukraine appeal and the weekly Share collection which supports diocesan agencies, the Bishops' Conference and poorer parishes.

One Dublin parishioner has complained to both the papal nuncio and the archdiocese of Dublin - saying this is not in keeping with what the Pope planned.

Michele McGowan, a parishioner in the Dublin parish of Lucan, told the Irish Independent that the Pope's effort for Ukraine was being "undermined" by this decision.

"This is a great opportunity to show support and solidarity with Ukraine. However, the Dublin diocese is going to halve that collection with Share."

She claimed the diocese was "hijacking the Pope's collection".

Parishes in other dioceses usually have just one collection on a Sunday, so dedicating a second collection to Ukraine is easier to facilitate.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese of Dublin told the Irish Independent that it has collected "in various different ways over the years for special collections".

"Sometimes the diocese has simply made a donation, on other occasions there were church ground box collections," she said.

In relation to Sunday's collection for Ukraine she said: "Parishes have been asked to provide separate boxes for the Ukraine collection in all churches to facilitate people who may not be present at Mass this Sunday and who wish to contribute to the collection or who would wish to give an additional contribution explicitly for the Ukraine."

These boxes will be left all week in churches.

But Michele McGowan said this still didn't deal with her criticism of the 50:50 division of the second collection, and her call for the Share collection to be set aside in favour of the Ukraine collection.

She added that parishes were well used to seeing the Share collection set aside for special collections such as the Peter's Pence collection for the Pope's charities, and other collections for Accord, Crosscare and to support seminarians in Maynooth.

"They do not divide those collections with Share," she highlighted.

She added that she would have been happier if parishes were told to hold a third collection - because at least people could choose how much to give to Ukraine.

Irish Independent

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