The pews are filled but the offering boxes are not. Apparently, an increase in the number of churchgoers does not necessarily mean an increase in Mass collections.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz told Radio Veritas in an interview that even the Catholic Church has been feeling the effects of the worldwide economic crunch.
He said there might have been a 20-percent increase in the number of churchgoers, especially during the holiday season, but Church officials also noticed a 40-percent drop in their collections.
“The collection was not lost, but was merely reduced because the people were trying to be thrifty. But they are still trying to give even in smaller amounts,” Cruz said.
“In the past few days we noticed that there was a 2- percent increase in the number of churchgoers. Many of them already stay outside or at the patio because they could no longer fit inside the Church,” he said.
The Pangasinan prelate said that during these times of financial troubles, Filipinos are again turning to God. He said this is the common reaction of Filipinos whenever they are faced with problems.
He said when the economy is doing well there seems to be a smaller attendance during Mass, but their donations are bigger.
But Cruz, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said he does not resent the decision of some people not to donate to the Church.
“This is only right because the Church could not live higher than the community it serves. The Church must be more frugal in its expenses,” he said.
He added that the public should not also expect much from the government in terms of assistance this year.
He said he expects the current administration to give less than what it collects from the citizens.
Even Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has expressed surprise at the turnout of Catholics who attended the nine-day pre-dawn Masses.
Rosales said despite the fact that many people were still reporting for work during those days, Dec. 16 to Dec. 24, and had numerous activities to attend to, they still made it a point to attend the early morning Masses.
“If there were a lot of people going to the shopping malls, there were also a lot of people going to Churches,” he said.
Like Archbishop Cruz, he also believed that the current global economic recession could have contributed to the big attendance during Mass. “Filipinos have a trait that is sometimes overlooked, especially when there is a crisis: faith in God. Filipinos are God-loving people,” Rosales said.–Evelyn Macairan, Philippine Star