Q — My husband recently asked me if I thought our parish priest had made a pledge to the campaign that is going on in our diocese. This got me thinking about tithing in general. Do priests and bishops have an obligation, like the rest of us, to contribute 10 percent of their income to their church, campaigns in their dioceses, and other charities?
A — Strictly speaking, there is no moral obligation as such to tithe 10 percent of one’s income to the church. There is, of course, an obligation to contribute to the mission of the church in all its manifestations as best one can, given one’s financial circumstances. Priests and bishops, precisely as members of the church, share in the same basic obligation to contribute to the mission of the church. The election of Pope Francis seems to me to have brought such issues generally to the fore. Simplicity of life seems to be one of the hallmarks of his witness, and simplicity of life for a Christian must surely demand some obligation to contribute to the mission of the church.