It is hard to believe that it was less than a ago that Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by becoming the first Pope to resign in 600 years. While the mainstream media likes to draw (false) contrasts between Pope Francis (whom I deeply admire) and Pope Benedict, I believe that Pope Benedict has left a lasting intellectual and symbolic legacy in the Church that is not sufficiently recognized by Catholics, much less the mainstream press. Specifically, Pope Benedict has a significant legacy in three areas:
1. He was the first Pope in 600 years to voluntary resign. He recognized that the office of the Pope was much greater than the individual holding the office and that he did not have the physical stamina to continue the job. That action speaks of a deep love of Christ and the Church, as well as a deep personal humility.
2. Pope Benedict completed the rehabilitation of Teilhard de Chardin into mainstream Catholicism. Pope Benedict has been writing positively of Teilhard de Chardin for over 40 years prior to becoming Pope. As Pope he continued to speak favorably of Teilhard’s vision.
3. Pope Benedict was the first Pope to make environmentalism and a deep spiritual ecology a central component of Catholic theology. Pope Benedict led the initiative to make Vatican City the first carbon-neutral country.
In this regard, I am asking for assistance. Our local parish is considering following the Vatican’s lead and installing solar panels on our roof which needs replacing in a few years. I have “been volunteered” to lead the financing initiative. The legal structure should be fairly straight-forward. As a non-profit, our parish is not able to take advantage of any federal or state tax incentives for installing solar panels. However, we could set up a structure whereby the solar panels are owned by private individuals who lease the panels back to the parish. After the tax credits have been used, the private individuals would sell the panels to the parish for a nominal amount ($1).
My request is this: Has anyone been involved in a Catholic parish that has set up this specific structure? I have done it in other contexts but it would be helpful to talk to someone who has experience with the unique issues of a Catholic parish. Any precedent would be greatly appreciated. If you have experience, please leave a comment below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org