The Diocese of Colorado Springs is willing to be poor in order to preach the Gospel and it is not intimidated by threats to withdraw funding.
A diocesan spokesman made this comment yesterday after several benefactors expressed their intention to withhold or redirect large donations in protest of Bishop Michael Sheridan’s May pastoral letter. In his letter, the bishop states that Catholics will not be given Communion if they vote for politicians who are not in line with Church teachings on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem-cell research.
Led by local lawyer and businessman Ric Kethcart, these benefactors are calling on the bishop to reverse his decision. Kethcart is threatening to revoke a $100,000 pledge to his parish's building project.
However, Peter Howard, the bishop’s spokesman, has dismissed the threat of decreased giving and said the diocese is willing to sacrifice dollars to make a moral stand.
"The Church doesn't exist because of money," Howard told the Denver Post. "The Church started out poor, and if such teachings and teaching the truth results in people withholding their money, so be it. That's sometimes the price of the Gospel."
Howard pointed out that some Catholics support the bishop’s leadership and have increased their giving. He underlined that Sheridan's first annual appeal last year brought in more than $2.3 million in pledges, $1 million more than its goal.
Connie Pratt, a 57-year-old homemaker, told the Denver Post that her family will double its giving because of Sheridan's letter. She said she believes it was written out of love for politicians and lay people.
David Gibson, author of "The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American Catholicism", said withholding funds is an understandable means of protest for lay people but he doesn’t think it will have much of an effect.
"There are plenty of wealthy conservative Catholics out there who can make up the difference,” he told the Denver Post, “and bishops are not going to compromise on issues they see as central."