A Pray Tell reader writes (lightly edited):
This Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, churches throughout the diocese of XXX will hear a CD recording of the bishop speaking on behalf of the Annual Catholic Appeal, a yearly campaign to raise money for diocesan needs and ministries. The cause is good. However, I have long struggled with the experience of deleting a Gospel homily for the sake revenues. I belong to a well-to-do parish of educated, generous people. These good people would simply give the money if requested. It seems very inappropriate to use such a “tactic” in order to persuade them into being good stewards.
This practice began with the former bishop. Initially, a letter was sent which the priests were required to read in lieu of the homily. Then, the practice shifted to cassettes, and now, CDs. Following the playing of the bishop’s recording, the priest reads directions to the assembly, explaining to them how to fill out the forms which are on their seats. Everyone is asked to fill out the form, even if they choose not to donate (this, the directions read, “helps defray the costs of a follow-up call from the diocese”).
The writer does not indicate whether past such messages have been simply a call for money, or whether the message has also incorporated themes based on the Gospel and other readings of the day.