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Temporal goods of the Church

Oscar. V. Cruz, DD
Views and Points

 

Oscar V. Cruz, DDIn accord with Natural Law, pursuant to sound reason and consequent ethical norms—with or without the sanction of Positive Law as may be provided by Civil Law according to a given Constitution provision or otherwise—the Church which is now more than 2000 years old and counting, has the inherent right to own and administer temporal goods for the needs of her apostolic works, the demands of funding social services and the grant of fitting support not only to her ordained ministers but also to lay workers in different ecclesiastical endeavors.

The government through different ways and means, can deny this right, render it futile and inutile even through either pursuant legislation or through the imposition of Martial Law of one kind or another. But the aforesaid right remains and eventually continues to be exercised after a sound and sane government takes over. This is the standing truth as proven by time and affirmed by history: Governments come and go. Government officials live and die. But the Church goes on and on existing, evangelizing and serving—until time there is none to look back at or forward. Whereas time has a beginning, so an ending it also has.

It is good to take note of the following universal Ecclesiastical Law specifically in conjunction with temporal goods officially owned by the Church the world over: First, they are not in any way personally owned by any Churchman such that this could then have the personal option to dispose of them according to his personal option. Second, they are in fact owned by a given ecclesiastical jurisdiction such as a Diocese or Archdiocese—or their territorial equivalents as provided by Church Law. Third, they are then administered or managed by the one after another incumbent Bishop or Archbishop of the place. Fourth, the Bishop or Archbishop exercises his management faculty with the intervention of the Financial Council and/or the Council of Priests plus lay professionals. Fifth, the said management faculty is regulated by Universal or Particular Church Laws strictly in accord with the said three-fold finality inherent to the Temporal Goods of the Church. Sixth, the Diocese or Archdiocese remains obliged to pay income taxes to the government for any and all taxable incomes it may have. Seventh, the out-going Bishop or Archbishop is strictly obliged and held fully responsible in giving an accounting of and entrusting the Temporal Goods of the Diocese or Archdiocese to his Successor.

The Church has no army, has no weaponry, has no prisons, no brute power, no secular authority. But She has a Divine Founder, a spiritual strength, an eternal mission. This is why so many governments, so many political authorities, so many secular forces tried and are still trying and hoping to subjugate, neutralize, if not altogether get rid of the Church. But history is the witness that while all such quasi-omnipotent entities and individuals are gone and done away with, while one government after another appear and disappears, the Church remains in her evangelizing existence and apostolic service. Those committed to fight the Church come and go. Those dedicated to get rid of the Church undergo birth, death, and decay. But the Church stands and evangelizes, lives and serves from her Foundation Day until the end of time. There were—and there still are—supposedly all-knowing and almighty individuals who fought Church doctrine, who did everything to subjugate her if not even get rid of her altogether. They lived and died, were buried and dust they become. But the Church simply continues to live, to teach, to serve one century after another.

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