“My initiative has been described by the media as a baby-bonus, but they were wrong. It is quite a different thing: a dowry for whoever joins the Christian community”. Don Bimbi – nomen omen – who since 2011 has been giving to the third infant of the family baptized in his parish a monetary contribution, is back today on the columns of Interris.it to speak about his “revolutionary” proposal and to review his activity.
In the Staggia Senese town, thus, the happiness of the birth of a child can be even bigger if the baptized baby is the third one in the family. A white dress while approaching the altar held in the parents’ arms, the godfather holds a candle, some feeble cries when water is poured on the forehead: baptism. And, immediately after that – but only after – comes the contribution: a bonus of 2,000 euro.
Money is offered this day, because – he explains – “It is beautiful when a child becomes a part of the Church! And we can help them this way”. Then he jokes: “Well, if we want large families, we need to motivate them somehow! ”
We do not want to reward merely the courage to have children – in itself difficult to find in the nowadays world – but rather to welcome a new member of the Catholic community. “When a couple comes for the preparation of the sacrament, we ask them how many children they already have, so we can offer the contribution. I thought it could be a good incentive and a good wish on such an important occasion!”
“It can happen, in front of economic difficulties, that a couple may give up on having a child – continues Don Stefano- that is why despite being a small parish and not having large sums available, we have decided to assign a part of the offerings of the faithful to the baptism-bonus. At the beginning many people did not believe it. Nobody, however, has ever refused it; it is concrete help that is convenient when a baby arrives in a family”.
One might think that the community could be unhappy with such a “selection”, but this was not the case: “Everyone was enthusiastic about the initiative. Often – says don Bimbi – retired people who certainly will not be able to benefit from it anymore, come and leave us offers for this specific purpose. Everyone contributes according to their possibilities”.
The requirements for receiving the bonus, as one can read it on their website, arethe following: living in Staggia, be married in the Church, and be Italian citizens. Someone considers that the initiative could appear a little “discriminating”, but it is not: the parish has already many other realities that support everyone, “foreigners, Muslims, Buddhists, non-believers”; there is Caritas, the Cav (Centre for life support) in which many women are helped to carry on their pregnancy and not to have an abortion ” 90% of them are foreigners”, he says. “If we had had more money, we would have extended the bonus also to non-Italian families – explains the pastor with a hint of regret – unfortunately we need to deal with the modest resources we have. In the future, perhaps we will succeed also in this.”
A slap in the face of all those who think that parishes, and more generally, the Church outstretch their arms only to ask and enrich themselves. Don Bimbi hopes that they will have the possibility to continue offering the baptism-bonus also in the years to come.
From the pages of Interris.it, we would like to invite other priests to put forward similar initiatives in their own cities, even without having in mind an idea of a network or structures, because they already exist: “The parishes are distributed on the national territory, and one way or another, no person in need remains unheard”.
Without doubt, the attention of the media has brought also some “jammers”, he explains, “someone has called me already with the intent to criticize or to accuse me of havinf said things I have never said”. And the priest’s reaction is extremely simple: “Considering that I do not know how to behave in such cases, I prefer not to answer provocations. The baptism-bonus is an incentive, not a way to divide Staggia’s inhabitants into citizens of A or B series… those who have attacked me with the intention of catching me in a lie, well, they have not received any answer at all.”
At a time when birth rate is close to zero, the good will of a single pastor becomes an incentive for the families. A commitment that should be left to the State, busy instead on other fronts, far from the protection of the basic life cell which is the family.
As to Don Bimbi, we cannot but applaud and appreciate the choice he has made; too often the media focus on priests involved only in negative episodes, replicated endlessly, neglecting to turn the spotlight on good initiatives and emphasising evil deeds instead of the good ones. The latter, however – and this story bears witness to it – exist among people.