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Stop Government Funding of the Catholic Church

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) received $69,377,785 (a little over 31% of total revenues) from government contracts and grants in 2010, up from $58,327,207 (40% of revenues) in 2009, per their latest financial statement.

Also controlled by the bishops, Catholic Charities USA, the umbrella organization for all the diocesan Catholic Charities, received $2.90 billion (62% of revenues) from the government in 2010 and $2.64 billion (69%) in 2009; Catholic Relief Services received $517 million (56%) in 2010 from the government and $361 million (61%) in 2009, according to Forbes list of the 200 largest U.S. charities.

The USCCB are busting their collective butts to elect plutocrats and their proxies this election year under the pretense of “religious liberty” while they use our money to proselytize and bring harm to women and the LGBT community. They wield their standard anti-abortion, anti-gay campaigns to energize the state-wide contests as well.

(How anyone can believe that a group of men supervising the global systemic torture of children really give a crap about fetuses or, since a goodly proportion of the hierarchs are themselves homosexual, genuinely feel a religious compulsion to persecute gays and lesbians is beyond me. No, these “moral values” were carefully considered and chosen by Catholic neocons in the late 1970s to be an integral part of their calculated formation of the Religious Right.*)

The bishops have shown their contempt for actual charitable work by attacking the U.S. nuns who help the poor and the sick. (In fact, Catholic neocons have been in favor of the 80% of U.S. sisters whose superiors belong to the progressive Leadership Conference of Catholic Women leaving the Church for a long time.) Diocesan-level Catholic Charities, which receive government funding in addition to the above, have abandoned their care of foster children rather than see them adopted by same-sex couples. The bishops have defunded numerous agencies which, like the religious women, do not concentrate their efforts on electing Republicans with “pro-life” and “defense of marriage” campaigns.

The prelates threaten to shut down their remaining social services before they would provide health insurance for contraception which would not only relieve them of the burden of having to pretend to care about the less fortunate but could also serve their politic goals as they would blame their actions on Obama’s “war against religion.”

The bishops’ control of all things “Catholic” is becoming more self-serving. The USCCB is presently developing “clear guidelines” so that only Girl Scout troops where “Catholic teaching is honored and at the forefront” will be allowed to organize in their parishes and schools.

Both Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services are part of the 164 national Catholic charities funding Caritas Internationalis, a once highly-respected semi-autonomous agency in worldwide disaster and poverty relief but now under control of the Vatican Secretariat of State. Last week, those working for the agency were told they must take a vow of loyalty to the Catholic Church, promising “to observe with Christian obedience what the Holy Father proclaims as true.” 

So we have U.S. tax-payer money controlled by the head of a foreign sovereign state, one who gained a reputation as Panzer Kardinal, the purported brains behind his predecessor’s partnership with Reagan to protect Latin American oligarchs and slaughter their opponents and who now throws his weight behind Europe’s pro-business parties, governments and agencies as well as in the U.S.

Yet that is already the truth of every single government penny given to every Catholic organization because every Catholic organization is under the control of a bishop and every bishop was appointed by the pope and swears obedience to him. (Every cardinal additionally swears not to divulge secrets “what may bring harm and dishonor to Holy Church.”)

As long as there are people sitting in the pews on Sunday, it would be near impossible to revoke the tax exemptions granted to the Catholic Church as well as the tax-deductible status of donations received. There is, however, no compelling reason for government agencies in the executive branch to continue funding the Church of the Corporatocracy. There are other hospitals which will not deny contraceptive and sterilization services. There are other schools which are not raising the next generation of plutocrats. There are other non-profits helping the poor, no strings attached.

Those doing the fine work in Catholic Charities are going to find themselves at a crossroads soon enough anyway where they will have to choose between advancing the prelates’ agenda or serving God.

*See my book, The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009)

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3 Responses

  1. To repeat myself, Madison was right: Tax the churches. Is this taxpayer money distributed in a non- discriminatory way to GLBTs in need, to women who need pregnancy and fertility services, to same-sex couples seeking help in adopting? This is a rhetorical question. You already know the answer!

  2. Betty I think your final sentence is very true. Many of these agencies, to protect their funding, will take some sort of identification along the lines of Catholic West Health Care–in the Catholic tradition, but not officially affiliated with the Catholic Church.

    The thing that really get to me is that the USCCB and individual career climbing bishops, had nothing to say on any of these issues when GW was president. Nothing has changed except which party controls the White House.

    • I agree. Actually, I was thinking of that Catholic Charities group which, rather than refuse to allow adoption by same-sex couples, reincorporated themselves as no longer affiliated with the Catholic Church but I couldn’t remember in which city that was.

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