The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) received $67,862,160 from the federal government in 2011, down from $69,377,785 in 2010, but a larger percentage of their income – 34.6 percent in 2011 compared to 31.5 percent in 2010. Nevertheless, USCCB president, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, "lauded Paul Ryan as a ‘great public servant,’ praised Ryan’s ‘call for financial accountability and restraint and a balanced budget’ as well as his ‘obvious solicitude for the poor,’” and told his audience “I’m anxious to see him in action.”
As Scott Wooledge accurately noted in his diary, “Catholic Church revving up its ‘beat-down the Democratic vote’ operations," the bishops are doing what they have done in past election years – declaring Democratic solicitude for the life, health and human rights of women and gays to be “intrinsically evil” and, therefore, faithful Catholics must vote Republican. Then the bishops tell us (if they mention it at all) that Republican unjust war, torture and the poverty the GOP imposed on this nation (“sharp drops” in life expectancy for the poorest Americans, suicide has surpassed car accidents as the No. 1 cause of injury-related death in the US) are matters of “prudential judgment” which any good Catholic can certainly embrace.
That the U.S. episcopate is using our taxes to carry out this campaign needs to be repeated.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver unabashedly states: “through our charitable ministry, [we] seek to influence the political, social, and cultural environments in which we serve.”
The national office supporting all US Catholic Charities received $2.90 billion (62 percent of income) from the government in 2010 and $2.64 billion (69 percent) in 2009 according to the latest year available of the Forbes list of the 200 largest US charities. The bishops themselves contribute only 2.7 percent of the Church’s annual spending to charity.
Catholic Relief Services, the international agency also controlled by the bishops, received $517 million (56 percent of income) in 2010 from the government and $361 million (61 percent) in 2009, according to the same Forbes list.
Both Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services are members of Caritas Internationalis, once a highly respected global humanitarian agency but now under total control of the Vatican. In 2011, the Vatican directed that the first order of business for this Caritas Internationalis is “promoting the Church’s social teaching” (i.e. gender and LGBT politics) and secondly “helping those in need.” Caritas officials must vow to obey the pope, as do the bishops.
In addition to “influencing politics,” Catholic Charities provides adoption services, foster care and pregnancy counseling according to the misogynist and homophobic teachings of the Church.
Catholic hospitals “are being run with more than 50 percent of taxpayer dollars.” Yet when the decision was made to save the life of a woman pregnant with her fifth child whose chance of dying was “close to 100 percent,” the nun who sat on the ethics committee of the St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center which approved the abortion was excommunicated. Although her excommunication was later lifted, Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s declaration that the hospital was no longer “Catholic” is still in effect.
And so all remaining Catholic hospitals and clinics must deny emergency medical care (Plan B) for rape victims, provide reproductive medicine to women or men – if at all - on a limited basis, and cannot save the life of a pregnant woman unless the fetus’ survival is guaranteed in order to maintain a bishop’s imprimatur.
While our tax dollars are paying for what the corporate media and bishops keep telling us is the “great charitable works” of the Catholic Church, two questions come to mind.
Of course Catholics do admirable charitable work, but do non-Catholics not do the same without obedience to a foreign head-of-state’s geopolitical goal of plutocratic hegemony?
Should the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships be eliminated entirely as a federal agency? Established by George W. Bush as the Faith-based and Community Initiative, his first act after taking office in 2001 in consultation with the USCCB, it has been called the greatest assault to the separation of church and state in our nation’s history.
(Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America )