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XX. Special Collections
Canon LawCanon 1266 of the revised Code of Canon Law states,
In all churches and oratories which are, in fact, habitually open to the Christian faithful, including those which belong to religious institutes, the local ordinary can order the taking up of a special collection for specific parochial, diocesan, national, or universal projects; this collection must be diligently sent afterwards to the diocesan curia.1The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law explicates this further:
The collection must be for a specific, not indeterminate, undertaking, but it need not be diocesan; it can be parochial (i.e., aid to a poor or struggling parish) or national or international. Nor does the undertaking or project which is the object of a mandated collection have to rise to the level of a need or necessity, as in the case of a tax (see Canon 1263), suggesting that the motivating causes for collections can be less urgent than those for taxes.
The final clause in Canon 1266 requires that the proceeds of a mandated collection be sent diligently (sedulo) to the diocesan curia. The import of the adverb is twofold: that the proceeds be sent without delay and in their entirety. Unless contributors have been so informed in advance, no part of the proceeds may be withheld at the parish or any other level; not to turn over the entirety of the collection immediately is to violate the intentions of the donors and, as such withholding becomes known, seriously to compromise the perceived integrity of fund-raising in the church.2
CollectionsThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops administers seven national collections:
Other collections include the following:
- Church in Latin America
- Catholic Relief Services
- Catholic Communication Campaign
- Retirement Fund for Religious
- Catholic Campaign for Human Development
- Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe
- Catholic Home Missions Appeal
- Black and Indian Missions
- The Catholic University of America
- Holy Land
- Operation Rice Bowl
- Peterís Pence
- World Mission Sunday
Accounting TreatmentSpecial collections are free-will offerings of the faithful with no mandatory quota placed on a parish or a diocese. To do so would transform a collection into a tax (canon 1263). A tax could be perceived as revenue and accounted for accordingly. A special collection, not being revenue, is an agency transaction and a liability by a diocese to be timely transmitted. See the "Agency Transactions" section in Practitioners Publishing Company's Guide to Preparing Nonprofit Financial Statements for further information.
Where donors have been informed, portions of certain collections are permitted to be retained by a diocese and are to be used for the same intent as a portion transmitted nationally or internationally. Paragraph 3, canon 1267, states, "Offerings given by the faithful for a certain purpose can be applied only for that same purpose." The donor provided the offering for a particular purpose; therefore, there is a donor restriction, causing the revenue to be temporarily restricted in accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No. 117, Financial Statements of Not-For-Profit Organizations.
- Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition, New English Translation (Washington, D.C.: Canon Law Society of America, 1999).
- R. T. Kennedy, "Book V: The Temporal Goods of the Church (cc. 1254-1310)," in John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, and Thomas J. Green, eds., New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2000), 1468-1469.