Once again, Pope Francis has said something that’s radical on the surface, and once again, the Catholic Church isn’t about to change in response to it.
Speaking with a Portuguese Catholic broadcaster, the Pope lamented refugees who have nowhere to go and who are being shut out of Church-owned spaces:
“Some religious orders say ‘No, now that the convent is empty we are going to make a hotel and we can have guests, and support ourselves that way, or make money,’” the pontiff said.
“Well, if that is what you want to do, then pay taxes! A religious school is tax-exempt because it is religious, but if it is functioning as a hotel, then it should pay taxes just like its neighbor. Otherwise it is not fair business.”
Not a bad idea at all. If your religion is all talk when it comes to helping the needy, what exactly are you getting a tax break for?
Before you point fingers, the pope is putting his money where his mouth is.
Well, some of it.
The pope also announced that the two refugee families he plans to take in at the Vatican have been identified, and that they will remain “as long as the Lord wants.”
That’s generous… (Even though they could probably fit another 347198411313 refugees in there.)
Taxing churches isn’t a bad idea in general, considering all the perks they get without always giving back much in return. One calculation of yearly tax exemptions for churches came out to $71 billion a year. Another is even higher.
You could buy housing for a lot of refugees with that money.