As the authoritative spiritual leader of Catholics in a diocese, the support or indifference of a local bishop can make all the difference for Catholic credit unions trying to create a better world by embodying the social teaching of the Church. Here’s seven practical ways for bishops to help this important work.
1. Educate the People of God about Catholic Social Teaching. Most Catholics today are completely unaware of the rich Catholic theology and history behind credit unions, especially Catholic credit unions. We hope that this very website can be a resource in your teaching ministry to show people how credit unions exemplify the heart of Catholic Social Thought and Action.
2. Appoint Representation on Diocesan Finance Committees. Many diocesan finance committees are dominated by bankers and former bankers. Bankers tend to dislike credit unions because credit unions cut into their profits. It is imperative that bishops understand this dynamic and ensure that Catholic Social Teaching and credit unions are represented on diocesan finance committees.
3. Give Catholic Credit Unions An Equal Opportunity. This is the first and most important step. Banks can go anywhere and take on anyone as a customer. Credit unions are required by government regulation to qualify members by establishing a membership bond with them. Some use geography, but some need to use another process. Bishops are allowed by the NCUA to write a simple letter to a credit union asking that all Catholics in the diocese be made eligible for membership in the credit union. (Your Catholic credit union can provide a template for this letter.) The letter does not constitute an endorsement, nor does it obligate the diocese or parishioners to anything. It simply removes an obstacle and allows credit unions to compete to serve the Church on a fair and level playing field with the banks.
4. Set The Example. To promote a more just and human economy in your own diocese, set an example by choosing to do your own personal banking with a Catholic credit union. Or direct that a portion of your diocesan funds be deposited in a credit union. The symbolism of doing this is enormous.
5. Seek Partnerships. There are natural partnerships that can be formed between diocesan offices and Catholic credit unions. Most Catholic credit unions are very willing to be creative in finding WIN-WIN scenarios to help the Church do it’s work in the world. Ask them!
6. Pray For Us. In our not too distant past, Americans in some parts of the country celebrated annual “Gold Masses” to pray for the important work that Catholic credit unions were doing. It would be wonderful to revive this tradition. Regardless, by including us in the daily prayers you pray for the “workers in the vineyard,” you win for us blessings and graces we need to continue our work for the Church.
7. Speak Up On Our Behalf. As successors to the apostles, Catholic bishops have the respect and attention of many people. Even non-Christians will often listen to a bishop because of the moral authority which comes with the office. So when local, state, and federal legislators are considering laws and regulations which affect our ability to do our work, please remember us and speak up on our behalf. It can make all the difference.