Both the income tax campaign and the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic provide the occasion for a reference to the Church's economy. Motives of justice and transparency oblige us to present the details of the amounts received by various means, as the Church does at various levels, but it is almost more important to think about the needs that are met with these means, and which justify their procurement.
In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of cases of individuals and families in precarious situations, who are forced to wait for help from other people and institutions. In particular, the efforts of Caritas, with its network of volunteers, are intensifying, and are once again showing their necessity and effectiveness. And, as a consequence of another order, the income that parishes usually receive from collections and donations from the faithful has been drastically reduced in recent months, due to limitations on travel for many weeks. Therefore, the resources available to meet all these immediate and often urgent needs are less, so that it is more difficult to cope in the usual way with the various aspects of ecclesial life. As is well known, in addition to the charitable and welfare activities, there are also the celebratory, pastoral, evangelizing, educational and cultural dimensions, which are no less important.
It is gratifying to know that confidence in the Church's management of its resources has grown, as can be deduced from the most recent results, those of the 2018 fiscal year and the tax paid in 2019. It does not seem entirely accurate to speak of an annual "referendum" or an "examination" that the Church passes with flying colors each year, even if those expressions can be used with metaphorical intent. But from the perspective of the Church's service to society in all these dimensions, it is obviously a comfort to know that it was shared and supported by 8.5 million contributors, 6.19 percent more than the previous year. And it strengthens citizens' confidence to know how their contributions are being used.
In this singular moment of social and ecclesial life, there are two main immediate ways (among others) to share the Church's service to society by contributing financial means: the income tax return to be filed by the end of June, with the possibility of marking the X in the box to allocate a percentage to the Church (and also to other social purposes), and collaboration with the needs of the parishes. We deal with both ways in this issue, with detailed suggestions about the second one, elaborated by an expert.
We also turn our attention to the needs of the missions in these times of pandemic in all continents. Pope Francis has instituted an Emergency Fund to accompany the affected communities in the 1,111 mission territories, contributing an amount himself and asking the faithful and the institutions of the Church to join the initiative, through the Pontifical Mission Societies.