Q. 1. I was recently reviewing some Catholic websites online to determine how they service financially.
I came across one that operates as a non-profit (501 c 3) corporation in Manassas, VA, USA. It had a budget of $ 342,500.00 in 2011, of which $33,000.00 went towards insurance, including personal insurance. Their information webpage indicate that they only have three employees. Their mandate, to rate Catholic sites according to fidelity to Church teaching. They claim to have enjoyed 2,500,000 visitors during 2010.
Based on my calculations, it cost .14 cents per visitor to maintain this website. For every dollar that was donated, 7 visitors enjoyed the opportunity to access their information.
Considering their mandate to rate Catholic sites according to fidelity to Church teachings, I believe money donated to this website to be a total waste. This website has not been mandated by the Catholic Church to rate other Catholic sites. Furthermore, their rating has frequently been known to be bias, based on the personal belief of the individual doing the assessment.
I then went to another well known website that is privately owned by a book author who lives in Palm Coast, Florida, USA. His homepage states: "Donations: we need and appreciate it!" The only other information I could find about this website was the following statement: "We are a ministry but have not sought that classification."
Reviewing the content of this website, I have discovered that while it implies to be 100% Catholic, such is not the case. Intermingled in the Catholic information, you will find the last world news, occult material, the promoting of Catholic scandals to the point where it will totally destroy your faith, the zealous promoting of non-approved alleged apparitions of Jesus and Mary, natural disasters, personal opinions that are not in harmony with Catholic teachings, and the list goes on.
I am of the opinion that both of the aforementioned websites are users of the catholic Church in order to have access to easy money so they do not have to go out and get a real job. Websites like these do great harm to the faithful. In many cases, their false teachings leave a permanent mark upon the faithful.
Is there anything the Catholic Church can do to expose these websites?
A. 1. First of all, I wish to say that I am familiar with both of the websites that you are referring to. Secondly, you have taken the first step in exposing these websites. If no one tells the public the way it is, no one will find out about it.
I was shocked to hear that the budget of the first website was $ 342,500.00 in 2011. While the statistics sometime appear impressive, until they are compared to other websites, there is no way of knowing if they are really impressive.
Let us look at Catholic Doors Ministry as a comparison to the first website that you mentioned. Catholic Doors Ministry is a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) as defined by Canada Revenue Agency under paragraph 149 (1)(1) of the Income Tax act. In 2010, it enjoyed a minimum of 10,000 visitors per day, this totalling 3,650,000 for the year.
The annual operating budget was $ 2,000.00 (actually $ 1,950.00) of which $ 1,400.00 was donated to a Mission in India and the local Knights of Columbus.
Based on my calculations, 1,825 visitors got to enjoy the website for every dollar that was spent. How does that compare to a website that only had 7 visitors viewing some content on their website for every dollar spent?
The public is advised to be very careful as to who it donates money to on the internet. Many websites do not account to the public, nor local charities or Dioceses. And unless you are a computer expert, it is next to impossible for you to prove that a website is truly located in the United States (as it claims) and not China or some other foreign country.