There’s a budget problem going on in the European Union, and some enterprising officials in Spain have come up with what must, in retrospect, seem like an obvious idea.
Cash-strapped officials in Europe are looking for a way to ease their financial burden by upending centuries of tradition and seeking to tap one of the last untouched sources of wealth: the Catholic Church.
There ya go!
Churches and religious institutions have been getting away with reaping the benefits of services paid for with taxes, but not chipping in on their own. Given the amount of churches and religious institutions that have little to do with actual religous use, Spain’s officials think this cozy relationship needs to get updated.
…effort to impose a tax on all church property used for non-religious purposes. The financial impact on the Catholic Church could be devastating. As one of the largest landowners in Spain — with holdings that include schools, homes, parks, sports fields and restaurants — the church could owe up to 3 billion euros in taxes each year.
Parks, sports fields, restaurants, all tax free.
….the government has slashed in half the grants it gives poor families for first Communions. More than half the city councils in Britain have eliminated state subsidies for transportation to faith-based schools, leading to a precipitous drop in enrollment.
You get a grant for a first communion? Seriously? Does a worshiper of Cthulhu get a grant when they have their first pig sacrifice & madness meetup? Does the devout Pastafarian get a grant for his first spaghetti dinner? Does the atheist get a discount on their bar tab? Subsidizing religious practice with tax money is absurd, and the EU is waking up to that fact.
What does the Catholic church have to say in its defense? Their ministers have such eloquent arguments as to why they should continue to pilfer the public coffers:
(bishops)..have declined to comment further except to emphasize that current norms recognize the “social value” of church activities…..
(prime minister)…he said, deserves the exemptions because it serves a “very important social function.”
…saying he doesn’t think this is the right moment for such a step. “It is in times of economic hardship that we need the church the most and need to support it”
The church’s argument is basically “we’re important! people like us!” They didn’t offer any specifics, though the article does list some of the more relevant things the church has been doing with its money lately,
…accused of using shady bank accounts and hiding suspect transactions….clergy abuse scandal cost the church hundreds of millions in settlement costs…Vatican, which this year reported its worst deficit of $19 million……Vatican bank has been embroiled in scandal for two decades, from the recent ousting of its president to accusations of money laundering….ties to the mafia…..possible murder and the disappearance of $1 billion in a bank….
Officials in the EU aren’t impressed with the church’s resistance,
Fuertes said that he is unfazed and that he is preparing to take the issue as far as the Supreme Court until the taxes are paid. “We need to force the church to answer why it should continue to have these benefits while the rest of us suffer,” he said.
Looks like the future is looking a bit more fair for the residents of the EU. One can only hope the US takes note.
You can find me on twitter, @DrDavidBurger