by Edd Doerr
The August 18, 2012, issue of the prestigious weekly journal The Economist features a devastating 4-page article titled "The Catholic Church in America: Earthly Concerns" (p 19). (Please note that in this comment I am not criticizing ordinary Catholics, just the hierarchy.) The article is far to long to summarize -- you can Google to it -- but here are some of the high points:
The various sexual abuse scandals just in the US have cost the church over $3 billion. Some parts of the church have allegedly "engaged in ungainly financial contortions ... both to divert funds away from uses intended by donors and to frustrate creditors with legitimate claims, including its own nuns and priests." "The church is also increasingly keen to defend its access to public healthcare subsidies while claiming a right not to provide medical services to which it objects, such as contraception; this increased reliance on taxpayers has not been matched by increased openness and accountability" [a point I have been hammering loudly for some time]. The church and its entities have been spending an estimated $170 billion per year, as much as perhaps half from public funds for hospitals, colleges, lower schools, and charities. The US church "may account for as much as 60% of the the global institution's wealth. In New York State the church may be spending up tp $1 million in lobbying to prevent the state from expanding the statute of limitations in clergy sexual abuse cases. Church donations are down, perhaps by 20%. NY's Cardinal Dolan, head of the US hierarchy and former bishop of Milwaukee, seems to have approved of multimillion dollar fund transfers there to shield cash form sexual abuse victims.
Whew! Go read the whole article.
Curiously, the same issue of The Economist ran an article (p 28) praising Indiana new school voucher plan that diverts public funds to Catholic and other sectarian private schools, but fails to mention that the Republican-passed voucher scheme rather clearly violates at least two sections of the Indiana constitution.
On November 6, by the way, Florida voters will vote on a proposed change in the state constitution intended to allow tax support for assorted church-run private schools.