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Cardinal Bribed Outlaw Priests

Lee Phillips — May 31, 2012

One hardly notices the stories of the sordid behavior of Catholic officials any more. They have become entirely routine, like any other stream of quotidian news that litters the virtual front pages of our newspapers. The eye now passes over them in the search for actual news, as it passes over the endless, dreary dribble of election-season horserace coverage.

But there is a new twist to this latest outrage that just barely manages to catch the eye. Here we have an archbishop paying bribes up to $20,000 to rapist priests to induce them to leave the Church quietly and not make a fuss about their defrocking. Must keep things quiet, you see. Any kind of ruckus might attract attention, which might eventually obligate us to pretend to care about the welfare of our parishioners’ children, and get the police involved — and explain why we didn’t do so as soon as we learned that our priests were raping said children.

When evidence of the bribes was first discovered and the archbishop questioned about it, he lied, denying the facts and expressing a good deal of outrage that such a suggestion could even be made.

The upfront cash was just a down payment, by the way. The abusers were also paid a monthly stipend after being separated from the Church, to tide them over until they could find a new job (perhaps as an elementary school teacher or camp counselor: I’m sure the recommendations from these priests’ former bosses would not erect any obstacles to pursuing occupations that would continue to provide convenient access to the offspring of trusting parents).

I’m curious how tithing Catholics feel about this use of the money that they contribute to their church. Is paying a bonus to rapists what you have in mind when you drop the envelope into the collection plate? Please let us know in the comments.

Meanwhile, the rest of us can hardly do better than refer to Sam Harris’ definition of the Catholic Church, which I extract below from his brutally eloquent screed:

“It is no exaggeration to say that for decades (if not centuries) the Vatican has met the formal definition of a criminal organization, devoted not to gambling, prostitution, drugs, or any other venial sin, but to the sexual enslavement of children.”

With all this in mind, why do the several states of our nation continue to exempt this organization from paying taxes on its extensive catalog of valuable properties? Of course, they do so because they consider the Catholic Church to be a predominantly religious organization, not subject to property taxes. But are they? They are certainly engaged in intense and far-reaching political activities. And it seems to me that Dr. Harris’ capsule description of this group is more accurate than the bland phrase “religious organization” appearing in the tax code.

Even Catholic-friendly Italy (along with other parts of the E.U.) is moving towards lifting the exemption, at least for those properties that are overtly commercial. So far, the actual church buildings are still managing to pass as religious in purpose. But, from another point of view, are they not just profit centers?

The Italian government is considering this step because its finances are precarious and it can not afford to ignore a significant source of revenue. But the same could be said by most of our 50 states. As our property tax rates are continuously ramped up in a desperate attempt to pay for our public schools, can we afford to avert our eyes from the many opulent structures and vast tracts of valuable lands held tax-free by a foreign-controlled city-state? Especially one that meddles in our internal politics and repeatedly flouts our laws?

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