What do we make of people hitting the "Catholic speaking circuit"? Should Catholic speakers be paid to give speeches and, if so, how much? Filia Day tackled the topic in this post from 2010 — and it generated a fair amount of commentary.
The influence of secular thought and ideas inside the Church; in her theology, liturgy, and apostolates, interests me greatly. There are certain problematic tendencies which are to be found in the Church these days:
Relativism in the form of cafeteria Catholicism, thinking that there is no real absolute truth to be adhered to in Revelation, or to be discovered in the natural life, leading to a pick and choose mentality, with all choices being equal and personally determined by one's own individual evaluation of the faith;
Scientific Positivism in the form of a moral theology and Christian ethics developed purely from measurable phenomena in people, as often discovered and expressed in decadent psychology, leading to the rejection of the Church's Traditional teaching on sexual ethics, especially homosexuality; and
Marxism in the form of a certain type of liberation theology, leading to a superficial social activism, and a reduction of measuring the fruitfulness of the Gospel in any given place by material well-being.
That's only a few.
And, even the decadence of:
Capitalism, has found its way into the Church, and some of her well-regarded members, which we see in certain aspects of the American Catholic evangelists/speakers who charge the earth to speak around the world.
For example, if a Catholic speaker was invited to NZ, was having their airfares paid for by those inviting them, and was to give approximately 3 talks per 3 dioceses visited, but was to charge each diocese $7000 per visit, would we feel that this is acceptable from a Catholic viewpoint?
That's $21,000 for a one week visit. $21,000 for one week of work, assuming of course, that a speaker actually worked for 40 hours during the visit. If the money was purely for the talks and time spent in related social tasks, then that loosely correlates to $2350 per talk event. That's incredible money for these types of speakers.
Additionally, what if a particular speaker only gave one type of talk when they were to come? And what about if when they give these talks, they are exactly the same, exactly the same, like a formula, a script, or a recording, word for word? Word for word, as compared with other talks of theirs as found on YouTube, and as compared to other talks given during the same visit? With this approach, one begins to wonder whether such speakers are true witnesses who have deeply assimilated their material in Christ, or merely people who can read a speech well, remember some lines, and play a part. I don't know to be honest. I do wonder though.
Do we feel that this is acceptable, and worth paying so much for? No matter what their own living conditions are, i.e., they have a family to feed, etc, or they have an apostolate to run and fund, is this too much?
Many of these speakers give a good message, are faithful to the Church, and their words have a good effect. As St Paul says, as long as the Gospel is being preached, he didn't care too much for some of the dubious motives and practices involved with some who were doing it etc.
But even so, the question remains: Is this a good thing? Is it something to support? Is this worth it?
If a speaker was brought out here (airfares paid, which is normal), and a collection was taken, and in the process, a good amount was given, as a response to the quality of the talk/speaker, with people wishing to help in covering costs (at all levels), and wanting to support the person themselves, and the goodness and worth of their mission in future endeavors, and support the apostolate that they work for (back in their home country), then that seems very acceptable and normal.
But to charge that amount, a large amount, like an appearance fee, is troubling and worrying to me. Is this a type of commercialization of the Gospel? Is this where certain apostolates, run under certain business models, are thinking of their speakers like business gurus, with a certain expertise, who run seminars for companies, and charge immense amounts for very little actual work?
Is this mode of operating faithful to what Jesus taught regarding preaching the Gospel? $21,000 for multiple release of the same production-line talk.
Did the saints ever do this? That's often a good starting point to look at. How have the saints acted?
What do others think? A worker deserves their wages for sure, but is this too much?
If a man can't make a reasonable living giving talks on the faith, then find another profession, and leave it to those who are willing to be poor for the sake of the Gospel, so as to truly be a witness.