Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Friday, April 30, 2010

A "Profit" for Our Times

A couple months ago LarryD came up with an idea for how parishes could make more money (Mass Marketing). & while he was kidding, it turns out his idea was a bit more prophetic than he thought. He reported yesterday on an Irish betting firm that sponsors a confessional in England. Let's just hope that Larry's actual idea isn't implimented next.

"Today's Sacrament Is Brought To You By..."
Go to any major city, and chances are a sports arena bears the name of a local corporation that paid significant money for the rights to naming the stadium. Here in Detroit, we have Ford Field and Comerica Park. It provides revenue for the franchise, and the company gets huge exposure while establishing a strong community presence. Once inside the stadium or arena, you see numerous other business logos scattered around - like on the outfield walls, or around the concourse, and so forth. It's expected and part of the consumer culture in which we live.
But in a church???

From the Paddy Power Sponsors Confession Box in Catholic Church
A Catholic church confession box has been sponsored by a bookie.
Paddy Power, the Irish betting firm, has paid £10,000 in the deal with Our Lady & St Etheldreda Church in Newmarket, Suffolk, after being approached by its fundraising committee.
Newmarket is widely regarded as the home of British horse-racing.

Confession time: Paddy Power holds the door as jockey Frankie Dettori kneels inside the sponsored 'sin bin' at Our Lady & St Etheldreda church, Newmarket

Paddy Power spokesman Ken Robertson told Mail Online: 'It was just before Christmas when we got an unsolicited call from a man on the fundraising committee at the church.

Paddy Power spokesman Ken Robertson told Mail Online: 'It was just before Christmas when we got an unsolicited call from a man on the fundraising committee at the church.
'He said Newmarket was the home of flat-racing in Britain and he asked would we sponsor an event to help pay for a new confession box .
'I half-jokingly floated the idea that if we paid for the confession box could we put our name to it - and he spoke to the priest, who was well up for it.'
The box, which has green curtains branded with Paddy Power's logo and the words 'Sin Bin' on the outside, was officially opened yesterday by jockey Frankie Dettori.

It's great that Paddy Power provided funds to the church so that they could get a new confessional. But to have their name be put on it? Kinda goes against Mt 6:2-4, doesn't it? What could have been a truly altruistic act has turned out to be a merely economic one, a marketing ploy. They're trolling for business in the house of God. Didn't Jesus fashion a cord of whips and wreak holy rage regarding something akin to this?

Not to mention the distraction. Imagine it - you're in Church, looking around, and then you see a horseracing logo, which gets you thinking...'boy, which horse should I place bets on after Mass?' To me, the sight of a confessional ought to inspire the need to confess one's sins, not pull out the racing sheet and place bets. This is a mockery of the sacrament.

The pastor made a bad decision - he should have accepted the funds and gratefully mentioned the contribution in the bulletin (the article states that he spoke of the contribution in a homily). He's allowed the spirit of the world to infiltrate holy space, and it might set a regretful precedent.

I predict the odds are 10-1 the bishop intervenes here. I certainly hope so.

p.s.: Some time ago, I wrote a satirical piece where progressive Catholycs placed advertising on Church vestments. I never imagined that something similar would actually happen!


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