Bishop Willie Walsh "donated lands worth €10m for the construction of residential housing and a day-care centre to cater for the growing elderly population in Ennis, Co Clare". Now, this land isn't actually Bishop Walsh's personal property, but is owned by the diocese.
First of all, let me say that this sounds like a worthwhile project. I think these sheltered housing schemes for the elderly are a great idea. I'm not sure Bishop Walsh should be giving away the land, however.
I can't vehemently condemn Bishop Walsh because I half suspect that most of the people in the Diocese of Killaloe probably think this is a good idea. Still, how many people hearing this news will think to themselves, "The Church has a lot more money than it needs these days".
In the past, the Church wouldn't have donated the land, but would have been quite likely to take on the role of managing the construction and operation of the facilities. There would have been a big Church-led campaign to raise the money and build support for the scheme. Obviously, Bishop Walsh decided that the Church couldn't or shouldn't do so in this case.
This has me thinking that the Church simply can't use the assets at its disposal. Does that mean the Church should just simply give it all away? Well, maybe, but why should I (or any Catholic) respond to any request for funding for those services the Church still controls if the Church is giving money away? Why should I dip into my pocket to fund Accord (for example) if the Church has the resources to do donate land that should rightly be bought or rented by either a private operator or the government?
I guess my big problem is that I can't see any benefit to the Church or the people of Killaloe thanks to Bishop Walsh's donation. It's just not hard-headed enough for me.