‘Every man shall give as he is able’
(From Arancel System to Tithing in the Archdiocese of Manila)
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. (Proverbs 11:24)
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:17)
The minister must always ensure that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments by reason of poverty. (Canon 848)
THE Church, contrary to what many believe, is not repugnant to change. While admittedly there are matters in the Church that cannot be altered like doctrines, dogma, and morals, this institution has advocated a sense of openness, much like the “aggiornamento” of the Second Vatican Council that makes her more adaptable to a constantly changing world.
Pope Francis has always been an advocate of change. He doesn’t want a Church that is caught-up in a state of stagnancy. He would rather steer it toward a process of reform hoping to make it more effective in responding to the needs of the faithful.
Far from being populist or a “people-pleaser’’, the Pope wants a Church that is true to her calling, one that shuns materialism; that is people-oriented and not self-reverential; that rejects the concept of “entitlement”; and one that goes out to the margins, seeking those in the periphery to serve, protect, and provide for their spiritual and, at times, practical needs.
The Archdiocese of Manila’s planned shift from the existing practice of Arancel System (AS) to that of Tithing captures the spirit of this reform. One doesn’t have “to pay”—as is often misconstrued—for the services the church renders to the faithful. Sacraments and other church’s services are not for sale. They are to be made available to those who opportunely ask for them provided they are properly disposed and prepared through evangelization and catechetical instruction and they are not prohibited by law from receiving them (Can. 843 §1-2).
More importantly, the Archdiocese is committed to ensure that no one should be deprived of the sacraments and other church services by reason of poverty (Can. 848). The church, after all, is not a business institution. It does not exist for profit. It exists for service. At the center of her existence are the poor. Her mission is to care, to serve, and to make the marginalized feel that they are not neglected and that their rights are safeguarded.
Be it known that this shift is not necessitated by the constant barrage of criticisms hurled against the Church due to the practice of Arancel system. Those criticisms, after all, are unfounded. In truth, this Arancel system is in place not to so much to enrich the Church or her ministers or to pay for church services, but as required by law, the faithful ought to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has the available means for divine worship, for apostolic and charitable work, and for the worthy support of its ministers (Can. 222 §1).
Very clearly, the faithful are duty-bound to financially support the Church. This time, however, the support will be based not on some predetermined amount attached to the sacraments and other church services but on the generosity of the giver (the faithful).
To speak of tithing in its strict sense, the faithful are expected to give the Church ten percent (10%) of their income. The Archdiocese of Manila will have to decide whether to absolutely adopt and implement this system or to let the faithful simply give donations when transacting for church services.
The Archdiocese, however, can adopt both.