SHOULD THE CATHOLIC CHURCH LOSE ITS TAX-EXEMPT STATUS? – Part 2

church-and-stateMarch, 2015

“We come into this world with a sense of scarcity…The little child soon learns to say, ‘It’s mine and you can’t have it.’ As we grow older…we learn to say other things like: ‘We better not let in too many of those refugees, even children from Latin America or Somalia; they will cost too much to care about them and they will take American jobs. Don’t give too much to folks on welfare; it might be a drain on the economy. Don’t raise the minimum wage too much; it might make my hamburger and fries cost more’”Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Henchal, (the last word: More Than Enough/Harvest Magazine, Nov-Dec 2014 issue).

Is it my imagination or are some Catholic priests becoming unhinged, releasing their radical left-wing politics to the detriment of their own Church? Are Catholics losing their own identity in a cesspool of secular progressivism?

The Miracle of the Loaves is rich with moral teaching and inspiration for those who wish to dissect the contrast between scarcity and abundance, I get that. What I don’t get—or don’t wan’t—is being preached to with inferences that we are bad Catholics because we had to pay that ever-increasing CMP bill instead of giving that money to an illegal immigrant; because we needed to tap into our savings to pay for exorbitant heating costs instead of saving it for the annual Bishop’s appeal; because we needed to feed our own families or provide for our own child’s school needs instead of donating our hard-earned paycheck to support the government’s addictions. You get the point.

The challenges of being fiscally accountable in today’s world are ever-increasing, as are the reasons for not being as philanthropic as the Catholic Church might desire (after all, it’s not their money they’re giving away, it’s ours). And bona-fide reasons are not to be used as poor excuses to fulfill one’s moral duty to tithing and social justice. Sorry, Father, I know it’s not charitable in your eyes, but my priority is to pay for a couple of current medical appointments and not go further into debt rather than give my money to the City of Portland for unlawful welfare handouts.

For me personally it’s a mixed message because a former employer (ironically, the Diocese of Portland) terminated my job—and health insurance—because decreasing contributions forced them to cut expenses. Do they blame the Obama regime for its pathetic employment record that have cost jobs, endless regulations that have increased utilities and staples, a culture of lies, lawlessness and immorality that has made more room in the pews? Of course not—that would be making a political statement which the Church is prevented from doing as part of its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt arrangement with the IRS. It’s much easier to hurl more Catholic guilt upon those (left) in the pew for their political beliefs and see if they’ll feel bad enough to absolve their sin by putting money they don’t even have into those Catholic coffers.

It’s understandable that individual Church leaders have their own political philosophies and might even go so far as to metaphorically inject his belief into homilies. But to blatantly throw hot political topics into the faces of Maine Catholics is simply irresponsible.  With that one column, Msgr. Henchal has successfully alienated the majority of Maine Catholics and Harvest readers who are Conservatives, Republican, and/or non-partisan but know the reality of financial struggle.

And, geez, enough already with the preaching to the choir. Harvest’s readership is primarily all those faithful 14% of Maine Catholics who are (left) in the pews each weekend, and oftentimes weekdays, who are already financially maxed out just keeping afloat.

Caesar’s regime has sucked individuals, families and businesses dry with higher taxes and fees, stiff rules and punishments and skyrocketing costs for food, utilities, gas, everything. All the while, Obama has made no attempt to hide his scary, historic anti-Catholic, anti-Christian sentiments.

The past several years of down-sizing and clustering is a direct result of this government’s secular progressive ideology that has destroyed the moral fabric of this country. This regime has eradicated freedoms and families, perpetuated poverty and impoverishment and has cost us livelihoods and lives.

Most Americans don’t trust our socialist-leaning government and the Catholic Church sounds more like a quasi-mouthpiece for the government, not for God, to the disappointment of its faithful and possibly to the detriment of its tax-exempt status.

Maine Catholic Church, Inc. has been forced to run itself as a corporation, unwittingly reassigning priests with no business experience to be administrators and leaving many a-fold without shepherds they can trust. We need Shepherds and Pastors, not Administrators and PC-police.

Henchal’s column is nothing less than bullying the faithful who are not Liberals. We’ve seen this tactic ad nauseum since 2008 yet there are many that will never bow down to Caesar and his Roman Empire. If that means standing with God and not Catholics, so be it. The Bible never states one needs to be Catholic to get into Heaven.

There are throngs of Maine Catholics who put their money where their mouths are, who realize they don’t have to write out checks to individual churches to tithe, that there are many worthy potential recipients of excellent stewardship outside the pew. In this day and age, church-hopping is quite common. As a pastor once told me: “You go where you are nourished.”

Perhaps if the Catholic Church Inc. would remember that in its neo-business model it might attract more customers.

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