EDITORIAL

End taxpayer subsidy for Catholic Church

Interior of Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica & National Shrine, Chicago, Illinois. PHOTO: Jeremy Atherton.
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News that over 1,000 children had been subjected to sexual abuse by 300 of Pennsylvania’s Catholic clergy has rocked the church worldwide. The efficiency of the institutionalized cover-up means only two priests can be tried for their heinous violations of trust due to the statutes of limitations.

Clearly it is time to hit the church hierarchy where it hurts — by revoking the Church’s tax exempt status.

The Catholic Church is an extremely wealthy entity, possibly the world’s richest. Its estimated U.S. operating budget is at least $170 billion a year. But no one outside the Vatican actually knows. Why? Because unlike other untaxed, non-profit organizations, churches in the U.S. are not required to submit financial reports to the IRS or even submit paperwork to apply for federal tax exempt status. Hence they pay no taxes on land, buildings, investments or income. Meanwhile, the clergy can deduct mortgage payments and rent from their income taxes.

The total U.S. taxpayer subsidy for all churches is thought to be at least $71 billion per year. Imagine the good that could be done with that money for children and the needy.

After the most recent revelations, the Catholic Church appears to operate as a crime syndicate engaged in sex trafficking. Ending public underwriting of this institution would be a small measure of justice for its victims.

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