Here’s What the Catholic Church is Really Scared of

In MarketWatch, of all places: “Catholics lash out at church leaders with their wallets.” I have not seen anything similar in the religious press or in major media like the NY Times. It’s largely anecdotal. But the U.S. provides a hugely disproportionate share of Church revenue, and Church finances have long been reputed to be shaky.

This 1987 article from Fortune – reprinted in 2013- is among the better sources of public information. A more recent piece suggests the finances of the Vatican and Holy See are shaky (here). Try your own search. This is an excellent guide to the transparency of the Catholic Church, which is roughly as transparent as the Mafia. By comparison, the worst banksters are models of transparency.

Naturally, the Church is issuing dire warnings: “Church leaders have argued that withholding donations only hurts the millions who rely on that charity.” First, they say nothing about direct contributions, which are far more efficient. Even organizations like United Way are far more efficient. Only a tiny proportion of all contributions to the Catholic Church go to the poor. But the Church is far less forthcoming than virtually any other charity in providing such information. Equally important, much of the money supposedly going to the poor from the Church and its various institutions is actually publicly funded. Thus Catholic Charities gets about 60% of its funding from the U.S. Government. As usual, church leaders are not to be trusted.

Withholding funds is one of very few ways the Catholic laity can alter the behavior of the Church. While Catholic theology says that the laity is the body of Christ, it is treated like a hemorrhoid.


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