Monday, July 17, 2006

Amid scandal, church shuts sports program

Newsday reports on a strange situation at St. Matthew's in Dix Hills. The athletic program was closed by the pastor due to some sort of financial irregularities. The Diocese of Rockville Centre audited the program last fall, and now the Suffolk County DA has opened a criminal investigation. The pastor, Fr. John McCartney, is new to the parish, arriving there just 2 weeks ago to replace Msgr. McDonald, who is now the rector of the seminary. Fr. McCartney came from St. James in Seaford, not the parish mentioned in the article. This story is missing many details but brings up some interesting points:

First -

"We went from being a church with an athletic program to being athletic program with a church," said McCartney, adding that the program had become so big that to some people it was more important than the church."

This is rampant in the Church today, particularly in Catholic schools and in suburban parishes. Many people are cultural Catholics and the extracurricular activities become more important than the important stuff. When you see people in Church reading the parish bulletin instead of the day's readings or praying, you know something ain't right!

Secondly, I can't help but wonder if the Church is becoming more quick to call in the law as a result of the priest sex scandals, or if the Church acts quicker in matters of money, as opposed to matters involving children. I hope it is the former but fear it is the latter.

Third, this is the third time (that I am aware of) that the Diocese has done audits that turn up problems right after a change in leadership. First, Telecare, the local television station had a new leader installed and then an audit found a worker had set up an outside company to maintain the grounds, and the work was paid for but not done. Then, Holy Family parish in Hicksville gets a new pastor, and an audit found two long time employees using parish money for personal expenses.

Overall, it seems the problems are being discovered and dealt with the proper way. I just wonder why it sometimes takes so long to find this stuff out. The lingering issue is the first one though - nothing can be more important than the faith.

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