by Edd Doerr
Here's a MUST READ: New York Times, Feb 20: "A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace", by Michael Powell. John J. Myers, archbishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Newark, enjoys a 4,500 square-foot mini-mansion on an 8.5 acre lot in affluent Hunterdon County, NJ, and is adding a 3,000 square-foot addition that will cost over a half-million dollars more. Meanwhile, his Newark archdiocese two years ago closed Mater Dei Academy across the Hudson from Manhattan. The Church is said to be running low on cash. Quite separately, "His Grace" , as Myers insists on being addressed, has a spotty record on dealing with clerical child abusers. (Powell can't resist noting that Pope Francis lives in a "modest guest apartment.")
Hmmm, let's connect some dots. A Catholic archbishop can live like royalty while closing some of the church's private schools. Church brass have been campaigning vigorously for many decades to get tax support for their private sectarian schools, through federal or state vouchers, while Catholics have been leaving the church in droves and have been cutting back on financial support. (Note also that Catholic school enrollment has declined from 5.5 million in 1965 to 2 million today, for reasons having little to do with money.) Meanwhile, the Church in the US alone has had to pay out well over $2 billion to victims of clerical sexual abuse.
Don't get me wrong. Individual Catholics are like Americans of all persuasions. It's the culture of the unelected church leaders long known for their arrogance that is the problem.
Why the hell should we taxpayers have to support the private schools run by the Catholic and other churches? Why should politicians kowtow to church leaders who want to have government impose their narrow, resyrictive doctrines on all women with regard to reproductive matters? And why are Republican politicians, federal and state, scrambling to do the bidding of church leaders?