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STOP THE ABUSE: Prime Examples Why ALL Churches & Religion Should Be TAXED

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Associated Press has reported today that Catholic parishes in dioceses throughout the nation have fallen at the feet of government for a pandemic bailout – all while sitting on massive piles of cash that GREW SIGNIFICANTLY during the pandemic – and without any government help.

(see: Sitting On Billions, Catholic Dioceses Amassed Taxpayer Aid)

That is at least TWO forms of fraudulent abuse of government:
1.) Asking for help when it’s NOT needed, and;
2.) Religion asking Government for help.

That the government has become involved in the promotion and promulgation of religion is a stench in the nostrils of our nation’s Founders, is a violation of our United States Constitution’s “Establishment clause” in the First Amendment, and a perverted corruption of Heaven – for those who believe religion is above the political fray.

For those who adhere to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson had some STRONG words to the Danbury Baptists who sought assistance from him, shortly after he had become President in 1801. It was on January 1 the following year, that Jefferson replied to a letter sent to him by the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.

While much is rightfully made of Jefferson’s reply, not much is ever said about what the Baptists had written to him. In a letter dated “[after 7 Oct. 1801],” the Danbury Baptist Association had composed a letter to Jefferson of much greater length than was Jefferson’s brief reply to them – 503 words versus 226 words.

Jefferson was newly President, having been inaugurated as the 3rd President, March 4, 1801, and served two consecutive terms – until March 3, 1809. A mere 7 months into his first term, the Danbury Baptist Association wrote to him, in part, that;

“… religion is consider’d as the first object of Legislation; & therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expence of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistant with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondred at therefore; if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretence of goverment & Religion should reproach their fellow men—should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dares not assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.

Sir, we are sensible that the President of the united States, is not the national Legislator, & also sensible that the national goverment cannot destroy the Laws of each State; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial Effect already, like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine & prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the Earth. …”

The style and use of language then, of course, is significantly different from style today, and is much more “flowery,” formal and ornamental. Today’s language is more straight-forward, and to-the-point… blunt, even. There are advantages and disadvantages to each style, of course, but the point is, for that reason, sometimes it can be difficult to “interpret” what the writer(s) are attempting to say, or what matter they’re trying to address. That can also be complicated by variants in spelling of words commonly used today, which are considered obsolete, and archaic. One such example or archaic spelling in their letter is the word “ancient” which they spell as “antient.”

But the the excerpts in the paragraphs above are the veritable “heart” of the matter in their letter. In essence, what the Danbury Baptist Association is asking Jefferson to do, is to “settle” a matter – in their favor – in a disagreement they had with a dissenting religious faction.

A bit of background knowledge is necessary for a more full understanding the matter which the Danbury Baptists’ letter addressed. The National Archives provides an excellently succinct backgrounder for the matter, as follows:

“At its October 1800 meeting, the association initiated a petition movement to redress the grievances of the dissenting minority against the Congregationalist majority in the region. Although disestablishment had not been an issue in the 1800 election in Connecticut, the movement was a call for the statewide repeal of all laws that could be understood as supporting an established religion. [Emphasis added. Ed.] In 1801, the petition movement tried to remain above partisan politics and cultivated support of some Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and other dissenters who might be sympathetic to their cause. On 8 Oct. 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association, meeting at Colebrook, Connecticut, voted that Elders Stephen Royce (of Stratfield), Daniel Wildman (of Wolcott and Bristol), Nehemiah Dodge (of Southington and Farmington), Stephen S. Nelson (of Hartford), and Deacons Jared Mills (of Simsbury) and Ephraim Robbins (of Hartford) “be a committee to prepare an address to the President of the United States, in behalf of this association.” The address and President Jefferson’s reply of 1 Jan. 1802 were reprinted in newspapers across the country, including Denniston and Cheetham’s American Citizen on 18 Jan. 1802 (Minutes of the Danbury Baptist Association, Holden at Colebrook, October 7 and 8, 1801; Together with Their Circular and Corresponding Letters [Hartford, 1801]; Shaw-Shoemaker, No. 109; McLoughlin, New England Dissent, 2:920, 985–8, 1004–5; Connecticut Courant, 25 May 1801).”

The letter by the Danbury Baptist Association dated October 7, 1801 was received by Jefferson on 30 December 1801, and is enumerated in Jefferson’s “Summary Journal of Letters.”

In essence, the Danbury Baptists were asking Jefferson to
rule in a semi-private matter
(a disagreement between Danbury Baptists,
and a differing Christian sect),
in which any hint of religion was going to be
eradicated from
the laws in Connecticut.
The Danbury Baptists opposed the measure.

Thus, it can easier be understood Jefferson’s reply to them. And while Jefferson’s letter is half the length of the one addressed to him by Danbury Baptists, it is much more succinct. In essence, Jefferson “shut them down” (at least quieted their clamor) by his reply, which in pertinent part read:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

“A wall of separation between Church and State.” There could perhaps be no more clear example for a case of “laissez-faire” than in Jefferon’s letter of reply to the Danbury Baptists.

And now, we have a multi-billion dollar, tax-free corporation coming and begging for a taxpayer-funded handout.

Could there be anything more onerous?

Could there be any greater example of an violation of the First Amendment’s “Establishment clause” – that government should not endorse any religion, nor show deference to any religion by providing special support and succor to that religion?

No.

When the Catholic church – or any religion – lobbies the government for special consideration and gets $1.4 BILLION in taxpayer-funded handouts, what is there to be said?

You read that correctly.

On July 10, 2020, in a story headlined “AP: Catholic Church Lobbied For Taxpayer Funds, Got $1.4B,” the Associated Press reported that;

“The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.

“The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.”

How about THEM apples, eh?

Sexual predators in the Catholic church, most often as clergy who were long known to be habitually chronic sexual predators, were found out, and rather than ‘fessing up, apologizing, and offering some kind of universal class-action settlement with all affected individuals, and forever closing out their case, the Catholic church deliberately shuffled money around to hide it from any prospective legal action, and applied for, and was granted, special protection under bankruptcy laws to stash their cash away from the victims, and their lawyers, who were preparing to, or were already suing the church for allowing their sexual abuse to continue, in some cases, for well over 40, or 50 years, or even longer.

If that is not the picture of corruption, I do not know what it.

And to think… the QAnon folks ~could~ have sunk their teeth into that meat, but instead chose not to, and rather, fabricated some far-fetched bullshit story that has so little substance, that it’s laughable. And right-wingers believed them!

THERE IS MORE GLOBAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSES RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSES THAN THEY COULD EVER SHAKE STICK AT – INCLUDING ACCOMPANYING CRIMES AND CORRUPTION – AND QANON TYPES DELIBERATELY CHOSE TO IGNORE IT.

And, I can guarant-damn-tee it, that they’ll DO NOTHING ABOUT IT.

The United States Congress should pull the rug out from under the Catholic church’s feet – along with ALL other luxuriating religious criminal cabals – and:
1.) PERMANENTLY REVOKE ALL religious organizations’ tax-exempt status;
2.) MANDATE that they ALL pay taxes;
3.) ELIMINATE laws providing special treatment to ALL religious entities, including tax status, by changing tax code to reflect status change.

If churches and other religious organizations want taxpayer money, they ought to pay for it through taxes. That way as well, ALL churches would be free to their heart’s content to preach from the pulpit any kind of political tripe that they see fit, and not have to worry about losing their tax-free status… because it’d already be gone.

It is
LONG OVERDUE
for this
Government-supported
Criminal Clown Theater
TO STOP!

And the ONLY way to put an end to religious corruption and governmental support of religious corruption, is to REMOVE TAX FREE STATUS FOR RELIGION.

There is NOTHING in the Constitution that states, nor suggests, that religion should be tax-free.

NOTHING!

James A. Garfield, a Republican, who later became President, had something to say about the matter. And, at the time when he made the following remarks – Monday, June 22, 1874 – was a Member of Congress in the House of Representatives from Ohio’s 19th Congressional District.

Mr. GARFIELD. I desire in a very few words, not to argue the merits of this case but to give the ground on which the Committee on Appropriations made their recommendation. Having stated that ground, I shall leave the question to the discretion of the House.

James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831–September 19, 1881) was a Republican, and 20th President of the United States from March 4, 1881 until his assassination September 19, 1881. Before being elected POTUS, he was Member of Ohio State Senate, 1859-61; Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1863-80, and; Elected to United States Senate, 1880. He was a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination, graduated college Phi Beta Kappa salutatorian from Williams College where he first worked as janitor, later becoming a teacher there, United States Army Veteran of the Civil War rising to the rank of Brigadier General, teacher, lawyer, and public official.

I agree with everything that the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. E. R. Hoar] has said about the worthy charitable work of this organization known as the Little Sisters of the Poor. I agree that they distribute their charity without the slightest regard to denominational belief. The only ground on which I make a distinction (and it is a distinction I wish the House to understand) is this: Here is an organization composed exclusively of people of one religious denomination. Under its charter the members are wholly and only of one religious sect, and of one society within that religious sect. I take it that no woman in America, not a Catholic, could be one of the corporators in this home. At any rate I take it for granted that the members would not act in conjunction with any corporation not of that sect as a joint controller of the institution.

Now, I make the point – and the Committee on Appropriations made the point – that we ought never to commit ourselves to the aid of an exclusively sectarian institution. I would say the same were this institution under the control of a Protestant church, even if it were a church to which I myself belonged. The divorce between the church and the state ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no church property anywhere in any State or in the nation should be exempted from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a church tax upon the whole community. [emphasis added]

If the House deems this a point that ought not to be considered, I shall be very glad to see these Little Sisters of the Poor helped. If the fifty-sixth amendment, making an appropriation for the work for the Women’s Christian Association were in favor of any one sect, I should vote very quickly to strike it out.”

–– James A. Garfield, Republican, then Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s 19th Congressional District, Congressional Record, 43rd Congress, Monday, June 22, 1874, Volume 2, Part 6, p5384

The United States Federal Government has also FAILED The People by FAILING to initiate a RICO case against the Roman Catholic Church. RICO is Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization, and if any organization was ever corrupt, it is the Roman Catholic Church, for their DELIBERATE NEGLECT of known child sexual predators in their ranks, predominately in the clergy.

TAX ALL CHURCHES!

When the coronavirus forced churches to close their doors and give up Sunday collections, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte turned to the federal government’s signature small business relief program for more than $8 million.

The diocese’s headquarters, churches and schools landed the help even though they had roughly $100 million of their own cash and short-term investments available last spring, financial records show. When the cash catastrophe church leaders feared didn’t materialize, those assets topped $110 million by the summer.

As the pandemic began to unfold, scores of Catholic dioceses across the U.S. received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program while sitting on well over $10 billion in cash, short-term investments or other available funds, an Associated Press investigation has found. And despite the broad economic downturn, these assets have grown in many dioceses.

Yet even with that financial safety net, the 112 dioceses that shared their financial statements, along with the churches and schools they oversee, collected at least $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed aid. A majority of these dioceses reported enough money on hand to cover at least six months of operating expenses, even without any new income.

The financial resources of several dioceses rivaled or exceeded those available to publicly traded companies like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, whose early participation in the program triggered outrage. Federal officials responded by emphasizing the money was intended for those who lacked the cushion that cash and other liquidity provide. Many corporations returned the funds.

Overall, the nation’s nearly 200 dioceses, where bishops and cardinals govern, and other Catholic institutions received at least $3 billion. That makes the Roman Catholic Church perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the paycheck program, according to AP’s analysis of data the U.S. Small Business Administration released following a public-records lawsuit by news organizations. The agency for months had shared only partial information, making a more precise analysis impossible.

Already one of the largest federal aid efforts ever, the SBA reopened the Paycheck Protection Program last month with a new infusion of nearly $300 billion. In making the announcement, the agency’s administrator at the time, Jovita Carranza, hailed the program for serving “as an economic lifeline to millions of small businesses.”

Church officials have said their employees were as worthy of help as workers at Main Street businesses, and that without it they would have had to slash jobs and curtail their charitable mission as demand for food pantries and social services spiked. They point out the program’s rules didn’t require them to exhaust their stores of cash and other funds before applying.

But new financial statements several dozen dioceses have posted for 2020 show that their available resources remained robust or improved during the pandemic’s hard, early months. The pattern held whether a diocese was big or small, urban or rural, East or West, North or South.

In Kentucky, funds available to the Archdiocese of Louisville, its parishes and other organizations grew from at least $153 million to $157 million during the fiscal year that ended in June, AP found. Those same offices and organizations received at least $17 million in paycheck money. “The Archdiocese’s operations have not been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to its financial statement. [emphasis added]

In Illinois, the Archdiocese of Chicago had more than $1 billion in cash and investments in its headquarters and cemetery division as of May, while the faithful continued to donate “more than expected,” according to a review by the independent ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service. Chicago’s parishes, schools and ministries accumulated at least $77 million in paycheck protection funds.

Up the interstate from Charlotte in North Carolina, the Raleigh Diocese collected at least $11 million in aid. Yet during the fiscal year that ended in June, overall offerings were down just 5% and the assets available to the diocese, its parishes and schools increased by about $21 million to more than $170 million, AP found. In another measure of fiscal health, the diocese didn’t make an emergency draw on its $10 million line of credit.

Catholic leaders in dioceses including Charlotte, Chicago, Louisville and Raleigh said their parishes and schools, like many other businesses and nonprofits, suffered financially when they closed to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Some dioceses reported that their hardest-hit churches saw income drop by 40% or more before donations began to rebound months later, and schools took hits when fundraisers were canceled and families had trouble paying tuition. As revenues fell, dioceses said, wage cuts and a few dozen layoffs were necessary in some offices.

Catholic researchers at Georgetown University who surveyed the nation’s bishops last summer found such measures weren’t frequent. In comparison, a survey by the investment bank Goldman Sachs found 42% of small business owners had cut staff or salaries, and that 33% had spent their personal savings to stay open.

Church leaders have questioned why AP focused on their faith following a story last July, when New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote that reporters “invented a story when none existed and sought to bash the Church.”

By using a special exemption that the church lobbied to include in the paycheck program, Catholic entities amassed at least $3 billion — roughly the same as the combined total of recipients from the other faiths that rounded out the top five, AP found. Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish faith-based recipients also totaled at least $3 billion. Catholics account for about a fifth of the U.S. religious population while members of Protestant and Jewish denominations are nearly half, according to the Pew Research Center.

Catholic institutions also received many times more than other major nonprofits with charitable missions and national reach, such as the United Way, Goodwill Industries and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Overall, Catholic recipients got roughly twice as much as 40 of the largest, most well-known charities in America combined, AP found.

The complete picture is certainly even more lopsided. So many Catholic entities received help that reporters could not identify them all, even after spending hundreds of hours hand-checking tens of thousands of records in federal data.

The Vatican referred questions about the paycheck program to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said it does not speak on behalf of dioceses.

Presented with AP’s findings, bishops conference spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi responded with a broad statement that the Paycheck Protection Program was “designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or nonprofit employers, faith-based or secular.”

INTERNAL SKEPTICISM

The AP’s assessment of church finances is among the most comprehensive to date. It draws largely from audited financial statements posted online by the central offices of 112 of the country’s nearly 200 dioceses.

The church isn’t required to share its financials. As a result, the analysis doesn’t include cash, short-term assets and lines of credit held by some of the largest dioceses, including those serving New York City and other major metropolitan areas.

The analysis focused on available assets because federal officials cited those metrics when clarifying eligibility for the paycheck program. Therefore, the $10 billion AP identified doesn’t count important financial pillars of the U.S. church. Among those are its thousands of real estate properties and most of the funds that parishes and schools hold. Also excluded is the money — estimated at $9.5 billion in a 2019 study by the Delaware-based wealth management firm Wilmington Trust — held by charitable foundations created to help dioceses oversee donations.

In addition, dioceses can rely on a well-funded support system that includes help from wealthier dioceses, the bishops conference and other Catholic organizations. Canon law, the legal code the Vatican uses to govern the global church, notes that richer dioceses may assist poorer ones, and the AP found instances where they did.

In their financial statements, the 112 dioceses acknowledged having at least $4.5 billion in liquid or otherwise available assets. To reach its $10 billion total, AP also included funding that dioceses had opted to designate for special projects instead of general expenses; excess cash that parishes and their affiliates deposit with their diocese’s savings and loan; and lines of credit dioceses typically have with outside banks.

Some church officials said AP was misreading their financial books and therefore overstating available assets. They insisted that money their bishop or his advisers had set aside for special projects couldn’t be repurposed during an emergency, although financial statements posted by multiple dioceses stated the opposite.

For its analysis, AP consulted experts in church finance and church law. One was the Rev. James Connell, an accountant for 15 years before joining the priesthood and becoming an administrator in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Connell, also a canon lawyer who is now retired from his position with the archdiocese, said AP’s findings convinced him that Catholic entities did not need government aid — especially when thousands of small businesses were permanently closing.

“Was it want or need?” Connell asked. “Need must be present, not simply the want. Justice and love of neighbor must include the common good.”

Connell was not alone among the faithful concerned by the church’s pursuit of taxpayer money. Parishioners in several cities have questioned church leaders who received government money for Catholic schools they then closed.

Elsewhere, a pastor in a Western state told AP that he refused to apply even after diocesan officials repeatedly pressed him. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of his diocese’s policy against talking to reporters and concerns about possible retaliation.

The pastor had been saving, much like leaders of other parishes. When the pandemic hit, he used that money, trimmed expenses and told his diocese’s central finance office that he had no plans to seek the aid. Administrators followed up several times, the pastor said, with one high-ranking official questioning why he was “leaving free money on the table.”

The pastor said he felt a “sound moral conviction” that the money was meant more for shops and restaurants that, without it, might close forever.

As the weeks passed last spring, the pastor said his church managed just fine. Parishioners were so happy with new online Masses and his other outreach initiatives, he said, they boosted their contributions beyond 2019 levels.

“We didn’t need it,” the pastor said, “and intentionally wanted to leave the money for those small business owners who did.”

WEATHERING A DOWNTURN

Months after the pandemic first walloped the economy, the 112 dioceses that release financial statements began sharing updates. Among the 47 dioceses that have thus far, the pandemic’s impact was far from crippling.

The 47 dioceses that have posted financials for the fiscal year that ended in June had a median 6% increase in the amount of cash, short-term investments and other funds that they and their affiliates could use for unanticipated or general expenses, AP found. In all, 38 dioceses grew those resources, while nine reported declines.

Finances in Raleigh and 10 other dioceses that took government assistance were stable enough that they did not have to dip into millions they had available through outside lines of credit.

“This crisis has tested us,” Russell Elmayan, Raleigh’s chief financial officer, told the diocese’s magazine website in July, “but we are hopeful that the business acumen of our staff and lay counselors, together with the strategic financial reserves built over time, will help our parishes and schools continue to weather this unprecedented event.” Raleigh officials did not answer direct questions from AP.

The 47 dioceses acknowledged a smaller amount of readily available assets than AP counted, though by their own accounting that grew as well.

The improving financial outlook is due primarily to parishioners who found ways to continue donating and U.S. stock markets that were rebounding to new highs. But when the markets were first plunging, officials in several dioceses said, they had to stretch available assets because few experts were forecasting a rapid recovery.

In Louisville, Charlotte and other dioceses, church leaders said they offered loans or grants to needy parishes and schools, or offset the monthly charges they assess their parishes. In Raleigh, for example, the headquarters used $3 million it had set aside for liability insurance and also tapped its internal deposit and loan fund.

Church officials added that the pandemic’s full toll will probably be seen in a year or two, because some key sources of revenue are calculated based on income that parishes and schools generate.

“We believe that we will not know all of the long-term negative impacts on parish, school and archdiocesan finances for some time,” Louisville Archdiocese spokeswoman Cecelia Price wrote in response to questions.

At the nine dioceses that recorded declines in liquid or other short-term assets, the drops typically were less than 10%, and not always clearly tied to the pandemic.

The financial wherewithal of some larger dioceses is underscored by the fact that, like publicly traded companies, they can raise capital by selling bonds to investors.

One was Chicago, where analysts with the Moody’s ratings agency calculated that the $1 billion in cash and investments held by the archdiocese headquarters and cemeteries division could cover about 631 days of operating expenses.

Church officials in Chicago asserted that those dollars were needed to cover substantial expenses while parishioner donations slumped. Without paycheck support, “parishes and schools would have been forced to cut many jobs, as the archdiocese, given its liabilities, could not have closed such a funding gap,” spokeswoman Paula Waters wrote.

Moody’s noted in its May report that while giving was down, federal aid had compensated for that and helped leave the archdiocese “well positioned to weather this revenue loss over the next several months.” Among the reasons for the optimism: “a unique credit strength” that under church law allows the archbishop to tax parish revenue virtually at will.

In a separate Moody’s report on New Orleans, which filed for bankruptcy in May while facing multiple clergy abuse lawsuits, the ratings agency wrote in July that the archdiocese did so while having “significant financial reserves, with spendable cash and investments of over $160 million.”

Moody’s said the archdiocese’s “very good” liquid assets would let it operate 336 days without additional income. Those assets prompted clergy abuse victims to ask a federal judge to dismiss the bankruptcy filing, arguing the archdiocese’s primary reason for seeking the legal protection was to minimize payouts to them.

The archdiocese, along with its parishes and schools, collected more than $26 million in paycheck money. New Orleans Archdiocesan officials didn’t respond to written questions.

PURSUING AID

Without special treatment, the Catholic Church would not have received nearly so much under the Paycheck Protection Program.

After Congress let nonprofits and religious organizations participate in the first place, Catholic officials lobbied the Trump Administration for a second break. Religious organizations were freed from the so-called affiliation rule that typically disqualifies applicants with more than 500 workers.

Without that break, many dioceses would have missed out because — between their head offices, parishes, schools and other affiliates — their employee count would exceed the limit.

Among those lobbying, federal records show, was the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Parishes, schools and ministries there collected at least $80 million in paycheck aid, at a time when the headquarters reported $658 million in available funds heading into the fiscal year when the coronavirus arrived.

Catholic officials in the U.S. needed the special exception for at least two reasons.

Church law says dioceses, parishes and schools are affiliated, something the Los Angeles Archdiocese acknowledged “proved to be an obstacle” to receiving funds because its parishes operate “under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” Dioceses, parishes, schools and other Catholic entities also routinely assert to the Internal Revenue Service that they are affiliated so they can maintain their federal income tax exemption.

Estimates of the total subsidies enjoyed by religious groups did not take into account the amounts received from subsidies such as the sales tax subsidies, local sales and income tax subsidies, volunteer labor subsidy, and donor-tax exemptions.
Researchers at the Institute claimed that the tax subsidies which were unaccounted for could also amount to billions in tax savings.
Further, the Institute claimed that the subsidies should be cut for religious groups, or at least restricted to being applied solely to the charitable works of the marginalization.
Religious organizations also enjoyed approximately $6.1 billion in state income tax subsidies, along with $1.2 billion of parsonage, and $2.2 billion in the faith-based initiatives subsidy.
Churches in the USA receive approximately $71 billion in tax credits and tax breaks each year, according to the results of new research released on October 16th by the Secular Policy Institute.

While some Catholic officials insisted their affiliates are separate and financially independent, AP found many instances of borrowing and spending among them when dioceses were faced with prior cash crunches. In Philadelphia, for example, the archdiocese received at least $18 million from three affiliates, including a seminary, to fund a compensation program for clergy sex abuse survivors, according to 2019 financial statements.

Cardinals and bishops have broad authority over parishes and the pastors who run them. Church law requires parishes to submit annual financial reports and bishops may require parishes to deposit surplus money with internal banks administered by the diocese.

“The parishioners cannot hire or fire the pastor; that is for the bishop to do,” said Connell, the priest, former accountant and canon lawyer. “Each parish functions as a wholly owned subsidiary or division of a larger corporation, the diocese.”

Bishops acknowledged a concerted effort to tap paycheck funds in a survey by Catholic researchers at Georgetown University. When asked what they had done to address the pandemic’s financial fallout, 95% said their central offices helped parishes apply for paycheck and other aid — the leading response. That topped encouraging parishioners to donate electronically.

After Congress approved the paycheck program, three high-ranking officials in New Hampshire’s Manchester Diocese sent an urgent memo to parishes, schools and affiliated organizations urging them to refrain from layoffs or furloughs until completing their applications. “We are all in this together,” the memo read, adding that diocesan officials were working expeditiously to provide “step by step instructions.”

Paycheck Protection Program funds came through low-interest bank loans, worth up to $10 million each, that the federal government would forgive so long as recipients used the money to cover about two months of wages and operating expenses.

After an initial $659 billion last spring, Congress added another $284 billion in December. With the renewal came new requirements intended to ensure that funds go to businesses that lost money due to the pandemic. Lawmakers also downsized the headcount for applicants to 300 or fewer employees.

A QUESTION OF NEED

In other federal small business loan programs, government help is treated as a last resort.

Applicants must show they couldn’t get credit elsewhere. And those with enough available funds must pay more of their own way to reduce taxpayer subsidies.

Congress didn’t include these tests in the Paycheck Protection Program. To speed approvals, lenders weren’t required to do their usual screening and instead relied on applicants’ self-certifications of need.

The looser standards helped create a run on the first $349 billion in paycheck funding. Small business owners complained that they were shut out, yet dozens of companies healthy enough to be traded on stock exchanges scored quick approval.

As blowback built in April, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned at a news briefing that there would be “severe consequences” for applicants who improperly tapped the program.

“We want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that need it, people who have invested their entire life savings,” Mnuchin said. Program guidelines evolved to stress that participants with access to significant cash probably could not get the assistance “in good faith.”

Mnuchin’s Treasury Department said it would audit loans exceeding $2 million, although federal officials have not said whether they would hold religious organizations and other nonprofits to the same standard of need as businesses.

The headquarters and major departments for more than 40 dioceses received more than $2 million. Every diocese that responded to questions said it would seek to have the government cover the loans, rather than repay the funds.

One diocese receiving a loan over $2 million was Boston. According to the archdiocese’s website, its central ministries office received about $3 million, while its parishes and schools collected about $32 million more.

The archdiocese — along with its parishes, schools and cemeteries — had roughly $200 million in available funds in June 2019, according to its audited financial report. When that fiscal year ended several months into the pandemic, available funds had increased to roughly $233 million.

Nevertheless, spokesman Terrence Donilon cited “ongoing economic pressure” in saying the archdiocese will seek forgiveness for last year’s loans and will apply for additional, new funds during the current round.

Beyond its growing available funds, the archdiocese and its affiliates benefit from other sources of funding. The archdiocese’s “Inspiring Hope” campaign, announced in January, has raised at least $150 million.

And one of its supporting charities — the Catholic Schools Foundation, where Cardinal Sean O’Malley is board chairman — counted more than $33 million in cash and other funds that could be “used for general operations” as of the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year, according to its financial statement.

Despite these resources, the archdiocese closed a half-dozen schools in May and June, often citing revenue losses due to the pandemic. Paycheck protection data show four of those schools collectively were approved for more than $700,000.

The shuttered schools included St. Francis of Assisi in Braintree, a middle-class enclave 10 miles south of Boston, which received $210,000. Parents said they felt blindsided by the closure, announced in June as classes ended.

“It’s like a punch to the gut because that was such a home for so many people for so long,” said Kate Nedelman Herbst, the mother of two children who attended the elementary school.

Along with more than 2,000 other school supporters, Herbst signed a written protest to O’Malley that noted the archdiocese’s robust finances. After O’Malley didn’t reply, parents appealed to the Vatican, this time underscoring the collection of Paycheck Protection Program money.

“It is very hard to reconcile the large sums of money raised by the archdiocese in recent years with this wholesale destruction of the church’s educational infrastructure,” parents wrote.

In December, the Vatican turned down their request to overrule O’Malley. Spokesman Donilon said the decision to close the school “is not being reconsidered.”

Today, the three children of Michael Waterman and his wife, Jeanine, are learning at home. And they still can’t understand why the archdiocese didn’t shift money to help save a school beloved by the faithful.

“What angers us,” Michael Waterman said, “is that we feel like, given the amount of money that the Catholic Church has, they absolutely could have remained open.”

___

Contact AP’s global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org.

Contact the reporters at https://twitter.com/reesedunklin and https://twitter.com/mikerezendes.

___

Contributing to this report were Justin Myers, Randy Herschaft, Rodrique Ngowi, Holbrook Mohr, Jason Dearen and James LaPorta.

https://apnews.com/article/catholic-church-get-aid-investigation-39a404f55c82fea84902cd16f04e37b2

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Papa Francesco Writes

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, November 27, 2020

Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts

To come out of this pandemic better than we went in, we must let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.

By Pope Francis
Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and the bishop of Rome.

November 26, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/opinion/pope-francis-covid.html

In this past year of change, my mind and heart have overflowed with people. People I think of and pray for, and sometimes cry with, people with names and faces, people who died without saying goodbye to those they loved, families in difficulty, even going hungry, because there’s no work.

Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.

Papa Francesco (It.), Pope Francis

These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion. Each of us has had our own “stoppage,” or if we haven’t yet, we will someday: illness, the failure of a marriage or a business, some great disappointment or betrayal. As in the Covid-19 lockdown, those moments generate a tension, a crisis that reveals what is in our hearts.

In every personal “Covid,” so to speak, in every “stoppage,” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.

When I got really sick at the age of 21, I had my first experience of limit, of pain and loneliness. It changed the way I saw life. For months, I didn’t know who I was or whether I would live or die. The doctors had no idea whether I’d make it either. I remember hugging my mother and saying, “Just tell me if I’m going to die.” I was in the second year of training for the priesthood in the diocesan seminary of Buenos Aires.

I remember the date: Aug. 13, 1957. I got taken to a hospital by Read the rest of this entry »

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NPR F***s Up

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Today, A.C. Barrett was administered the Constitutional oath as a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court by SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas.

She must still be administered the oath of office.

It’s only her SECOND job as a judge.

And she hasn’t even been a judge a total of 3 years yet!

Not even!!

Can you say “GREENHORN”? “Wet behind the ears”?

Recall that she came from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – her first job as a jurist, which Trump also gave her. No doubt, he’ll expect something in return.

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed her nomination along a party line vote, 52R-48D.

It only took 31 days from nomination to confirmation for the Republican Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell of Kentucky to ramrod her through the process – a record time. She must like being Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s NOT Illegal For Weirdos To Serve

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, October 22, 2020

It’s a good thing that American Presidents don’t nominate weirdos or extremists for the Supreme Court.

Amy Coney Barrett as Hannibal Lector, the psychotic, psychopathic weirdo in the movie series “Silence of the Lambs.”

People who have 7 kids – adopted, or not – are certainly outside the norm.

As is forbidding the use of birth control – and that’s almost exclusively a religious matter.

And now that businesses can have religion, which god do they worship – Mammon? Was it the Commerce Clause that Jesus died for? Or, was it people?

But after all, “businesses are people, my friend.”

And since money is free speech, what’s next?

To be frank, being outside the norm is not illegal in the United States.

It’s not illegal to be a weirdo.

Goodness knows, there are plenty of them in all 50 states.

Belonging to a weird religious cult shouldn’t disqualify one for service – at least according to the Constitution, which has a renown “no religious test” clause.

I mean, we could have, and there is no legal compunction forbidding, Moonies to serve us in our government – any government, federal, state, or local – and, that’s perfectly A-okay according to the Constitution – as it should be.

People who believe the Earth is flat could serve us in government – and while there’s not a “no scientific test” clause in our Constitution, I would imagine that most reasonable people would agree that, like the Moonies, those who believe the Earth is flat are weirdos, and extremists.

People who believe in alchemy – the fraudulent and disproven notion that gold can be made from lead, various ores, or things that do not contain elemental gold – could be elected, or appointed, and serve us in our government.

Why, even those who have belonged to the Ku Klux Klan have served on the Supreme Court – Hugo Black, an Alabamian.

And the virulently infamous racist George C. Wallace was elected as Alabama’s governor FOUR times.

Stranger things have happened.

May they never happen again.


theguardian.com

Revealed: Ex-members of Amy Coney Barrett faith group tell of trauma and sexual abuse

by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday 21 Oct 2020, 0500 EDT
Last modified on Wednesday 21 Oct 2020, 2337 EDT


Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the supreme court has prompted former members of her secretive faith group, the People of Praise, to come forward and share stories about emotional trauma and – in at least one case – sexual abuse they claim to have suffered at the hands of members of the Christian group.

In the wake of the allegations, the Guardian has learned that the charismatic Christian organization, which is based in Indiana, has hired the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to conduct an “independent investigation” into sexual abuse claims on behalf of People of Praise.

The historic sexual abuse allegations and claims of emotional trauma do not pertain specifically to Barrett, who has been a lifelong member of the charismatic group, or her family.

But some former members who spoke to the Guardian said they were deeply concerned that too little was understood about the “community” of People of Praise ahead of Barrett’s expected confirmation by the Senate next week, after which she will hold the seat formerly held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Two people familiar with the matter say that more than two dozen former members of the faith group, many of whom say they felt “triggered” by Barrett’s nomination, are participating in a support group to discuss how the faith group affected their lives.

“The basic premise of everything at the People of Praise was that the devil controlled everything outside of the community, and you were ‘walking out from under the umbrella of protection’ if you ever left,” said one former member who called herself Esther, who had to join the group as a child but then left the organization. “I was OK with it being in a tiny little corner of Indiana, because a lot of weird stuff happens in tiny little corners in this country. But it’s just unfathomable to me – I can’t even explain just how unfathomable it is – that you would have a supreme court justice who is a card-carrying member of this community.”

Barrett was not asked about her involvement in People of Praise during her confirmation hearings last week, and has never included her involvement with the group in Senate disclosure forms, but has in the past emphasized that her religious faith as a devout Catholic would not interfere with her impartiality.

People of Praise is rooted in the rise of charismatic Christian communities in the late 1960s and 1970s, which Read the rest of this entry »

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Politics, Religion, And Sex

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, January 10, 2020

https://www.statesman.com/news/20200109/court-rejects-appeal-arguing-that-latex-clad-dancers-are-nude-under-texas-law

PPL can be so stupid.

I think we’re living in an extraordinarily stupid era.

Sure, there are ~some~ smart folks, and some genuinely genius things have been, and are being done. But, on the whole, this age is small-minded, and inordinately consumed with a desire to make, by force of law, others behave according to the privately-held sacrosanct tenets of select individuals or groups who are, in effect, writing private law, instead of public law.

Most such individuals and groups are ultra right-wing religious radicals, zealots of the First Order, who, legally mandate others to behave according to their private principles. The ostensible effect is impressing casual observers that the adherent/practitioner believes, because their behavior demonstrates adherence and obedience to those rules and regulations. It also thereby gives automatic imprimatur to them. In such tenets, they see themselves as performing the will of their god/ess, and by extension, being pleasing to the same. It is a form of wholesale cultural appropriation and subjugation.

It is, in effect, a hypocrisy, a type of lip service which has been ridiculed and mocked via memes such as “Jesus is coming. Quick! Look busy!,” and others similarly.

In essence, in its simplest, purest form, it boils down to one group of people wanting to control another group of people, and to force them into submitting to their privately held beliefs, most of which are religiously motivated, and often predicated upon a “thou shalt not” type law.

However, the highest, if not entire, notion of religion is not only freedom, but of self-improvement and self-regulation. Religion ostensibly seeks the betterment of the individual, and by natural extension, the whole, the collective, the corporate, the community.

By working on an Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Should Churches Should Be Taxed?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Ownership of these churches in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was transferred to the parishes. As a result, the churches are excluded from the bankruptcy estate available to clergy abuse victims. [Photographer: William LeGoullon for Bloomberg Businessweek]

Tax churches because they’re businesses, plain and simple. The product or service they provide is religion and/or spirituality.

Bloomberg Business News published the findings of their most recent financial investigation, which showed that – as expected – like any nominally competent business organization, or conglomerated international corporation, the Catholic Church in the United States has moved to protect its assets from being considered part of any potential judgments/settlements arising from individual or Class Action lawsuits initiated by individuals (plaintiffs) who as children were abused by priests, and now are adults.

From a business perspective, one could think of it as the Church opposing members who may be potential or prospective “creditors” in any liability arising from sex abuse cases.

The Federal Government needs to RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) them, because they’re clearly corrupt as evidenced by:
• Perpetrating, and perpetuating, sexual abuse, by;
• Deliberately hiding and shuffling perpetrator priests, and by;
• Deliberately shifting and hiding assets in response to lawsuits.

Catholic Church Shields $2 Billion in Assets to Limit Abuse Payouts

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-01-08/the-catholic-church-s-strategy-to-limit-payouts-to-abuse-victims

“In many cases, churches precede bankruptcy by transferring and reclassifying assets.

The effect is to shrink the pot of money available to clergy abuse victims.

“That and Chapter 11’s [bankruptcy] universal settle­ments and protections from further claims have been an effective Read the rest of this entry »

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Mandatory Death Penalty For Pedophile Priests

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, December 28, 2019

In this Dec. 18, 2019 photo, Joey Covino poses for a photo at his home in Saugus, Mass., with a photo of himself as a 9-year-old boy. Covino was abused by Rev. Richard J. McCormick at a summer camp in Massachusetts in 1981. Covino said the entirety of his adult life had been altered by McCormick’s abuse – failed relationships, his decisions to join the military and later the police, nightmares that plagued him. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Hundreds of

accused clergy

left off church’s

sex abuse lists

apnews.com/f6238fe6724bdf4f30a42ff7d11a327e

Can anyone think of any legitimate reason why child sex offenders should not get a mandatory Death Penalty – with no possibility for appeals?

Sex offenders who prey upon children are incorrigible. They are literally incapable of reform. It would be easier to ask a leopard to change its spots.

In this Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 file photo, Judge Timothy Feeley, left, addresses the former Rev. Richard J. McCormick, 74, in Salem Superior Court in Boston after his conviction of raping Joey Covino as a child, for which he was sentenced up to 10 years. Joey Covino said the entirety of his adult life had been altered by McCormick’s abuse over two summers at a Salesian camp – failed relationships, his decisions to join the military and later the police, nightmares that plagued him. His decision to come forward led to McCormick’s conviction of rape in 2014. McCormick has since plead guilty to assaulting another boy. (Faith Ninivaggi/The Boston Herald via AP, Pool)

No form of treatment – not even chemical castration – has ever “cured” or eliminated child sex abusers’ compulsion to harm children. Professionals acknowledge that, “no cure exists for pedophilia.” As one organization put it, “No one has been able to find a way to change pedophiles into nonpedophiles.” It is splitting hairs to argue that the term “pedophile” is somehow inapplicable because sexual attraction to, and sexual abuse of, children aged 11 to 14 is categorized as “hebephilia.”

Currently-accepted thought is that child sexual abusers are born with a predilection for being sexually aroused by children. And while that inordinate unhealthy desire can be “cultivated,” per se, it needn’t be acted upon – it needn’t be cultivated.

Sexual preference for children (as in normal, healthy, youthful sexual desire) doesn’t have to result in actual sexual behaviors being demonstrated toward or upon children, and is differentiated from acting upon one’s thoughts – including differentiating between fantasy and reality.

It is differentiated from habitual sexual abuse of children, especially by adult males in a religious order (in this case), who exercised some degree of authority, or control over the children and teens in their “flock” of believers.

How common is sexual abuse of children?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 4 girls (25%), and 1 in 6 boys (16.6%) are sexually abused before age 18, with the average age of first abuse between ages 9 and 10. The typical pattern is abuse by an adult male acquaintance (60%), which continues for at least 4 years.

As of March 31, 2016, there were 805,781 registered sex offenders in the United States. Many offenders evade detection and their offenses are unknown, along with the actual number of child molesters, which also remains unknown. As well, the root cause(s) of their impulses are largely unknown.

The Catholic Church has not helped to expose or stop such horrific wrong-doing, and instead, has conspired to Read the rest of this entry »

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Law Is Good, Love Is Better

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 2, 2018

It seemed like such a good idea at the time: Carve the law of the nation in stone. We citizens of another land and millennia can appreciate how final the Ten Commandments must have felt — and yet Read the rest of this entry »

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Many Years, Countless Tears… But Joy Comes With The Morning.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 27, 2018

Tapestry of Saint Monica of Hippo, by John Nava (b.1947).

For many, many years Saint Monica of Hippo wept during her ceaselessly tireless prayers for her husband Patricius – a pagan whom lived in her hometown of Tagast in North Africa, to whom her parents gave her in marriage, even though she was a Christian – their son Augustine, and her mother-in-law who lived with them, to become Christians. Patricius was known for his violent temper and licentiousness, while Monica’s mother-in-law was similarly ornery and cantankerous. Her dedication and devotion to Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t Fan The Flames

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 30, 2018

In the summer of A.D. 64 a terrible fire swept through the city of Rome. Emperor Nero found himself praised for his efforts to help the victims, and accused of setting the fire. To deflect the criticism, he Read the rest of this entry »

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Shouldering Responsibility

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, June 29, 2018

The pallium is an ancient liturgical vestment worn only by the pope and a very few other high-level church officials upon whom the pope bestows it as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them. In honor of Saints Peter and Paul, today is the day of Read the rest of this entry »

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Think Before You Act

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, June 28, 2018

The church calendar identifies the second-century saint Irenaeus as a “bishop and martyr.” He was certainly a bishop (of Lyons in France), but his martyrdom may be more legendary. He is remembered primarily, however, not for his death but for Read the rest of this entry »

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Good News For Hungry Hearts And Minds

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Christians haven’t always done evangelization well. The Benedictine monk and bishop, Saint Boniface (c. 680-754), had a mixed history in that regard. There are stories about him literally trampling the religious traditions of other cultures but also about him embracing the customs of people and inviting them to see their own lives in light of the gospel. What’s your take on evangelization? Is there a hammer, or the gospel in someone’s hand? Consider the words of Read the rest of this entry »

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Stepping Out For Jesus

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saint Philip Neri (1515-95) must have had a good cobbler, because he sure put a lot of miles on his shoes. He sauntered through Rome, striking up conversations with whomever he met, beggars or bankers, warming hearts as he talked about God. Often, he’d bid them walk and talk with him en route to Read the rest of this entry »

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Thank You, Mother

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 21, 2018

Pope Francis recently added a memorial to celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as “Mother of the Church” every year on the Monday after Pentecost as a way to Read the rest of this entry »

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Let Go And Love

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 14, 2018

Jesus’ Last Supper discourses are surely some of the most poignant passages in John’s gospel. You can almost hear the urgency in Jesus’ voice as he exhorts His disciples to carry on and always love one another. Just “love one another.” Three simple words, yet how difficult they are to live at times! Or at least we make them that way. We prefer to hold on to our anger, resentment, or that small slight from this morning. We are entitled to feel the way we do — right? Yet, how much Read the rest of this entry »

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Working In Absentia

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Henri NouwenMuch has been written about the importance of a “ministry of presence” – of being with people in times of need. Important as presence is, there is also a “ministry of absence,” said noted spirituality author Henri Nouwen. We should never forget that it is Read the rest of this entry »

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Find Your Own Path

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 27, 2018

Modern gurus abound on talk shows and blogs, full of advice about how you should live your life.

Some of their suggestions may be helpful; the best ones are borrowed from Read the rest of this entry »

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Your Turn To Serve

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, April 22, 2018

Wise. Brave. Humble. Seekers of the common good above personal ambition. The world can’t get enough good leaders, and the best way to acquire the leaders we need in every aspect of modern life is for all of us to strive to be leaders right where we are. On this 55th World Day of Read the rest of this entry »

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Focus On The Good – In Everyone

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Just as Mother Teresa had her critics, so also Father Damien was maligned after his death. It was novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, however, who visited the island leper colony where Damien ministered in 1889 and set the record straight. When a Honolulu pastor publicly called Damien a “coarse, dirty man” whose leprosy should be attributed to his “carelessness,” Stevenson rebutted: “You are one of those who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take Read the rest of this entry »

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Fully Love

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, April 15, 2018

One thing Jesus never could stomach is a hypocrite. In the stories, He always prefers sincere sinners to religious fakers. It’s easy to slip into the role of a synthetic disciple without even noticing. Our religious routines — prayer, Mass attendance, lip-synched proper responses to moral issues — can go on autopilot. Meanwhile, Read the rest of this entry »

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Whom do you follow?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Like Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador in the 20th century and Thomas à Becket of England in the 12th century, Saint Stanislaus (c. 1030-79), according to tradition, was killed in church, in this case while celebrating Mass. Stanislaus’ murderer was Read the rest of this entry »

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Let It Be

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 9, 2018

Mary is the mother of the church and the model of all Christians. At the message of an angel, she believed beyond all reason and offered her life in service of God’s plan. Her response, “let it be,” is the answer of every disciple who trusts in God’s word to make all things new. In the season of Read the rest of this entry »

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Rise Up In Faith

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, March 26, 2018

Talk about “life-threatening”: Sometimes vitality itself is the threat! Lazarus was looking mighty good for a dead man after Jesus called him out of the tomb. So the religious authorities put Lazarus on their hit list along with Jesus. Next time, Lazarus might stay dead; however, nobody Read the rest of this entry »

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Bathed In Grace

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Not long before Jesus heals the sick man at the pool, He encounters the Samaritan woman at the well. The stories have much in common. Neither knew who Jesus was or the power He possessed, but Jesus knew everything about them — and offers to Read the rest of this entry »

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Get Outside Your Self, Focus On The Bigger Picture

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, March 8, 2018

If there were ever a patron saint for people who jump to extremes and then find balance in their lives, it would be John of God (1495-1559). First he was a wild-living soldier nearly hanged after being accused of stealing from the army. After a reprieve, he was so grateful that he Read the rest of this entry »

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Service Is The Only Security

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Not even the deepest, fiercest parental love can secure the future of loved ones or keep them from harm. Take Perpetua, a young mother still nursing, and her pregnant servant Felicity, who were Read the rest of this entry »

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Less Is More

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 24, 2018

The phrase “less is more” catches our attention because at first glance it seems illogical. How can less be more? They’re opposites, and of the two, “more” is often regarded as better. But taken in a different light, the phrase makes good sense. Maybe we Read the rest of this entry »

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Turn It Over

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

One of the many advantages of memorized prayers such as the “Our Father” is that we can say them when we have no words of our own; we don’t have to think. That’s also one of their disadvantages: We don’t have to think. In fact, Read the rest of this entry »

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Get Outside Your Comfort Zone This Lent

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, February 18, 2018

The desert’s a great place to encounter the Holy, as a long tradition of desert fathers and mothers attests. But the desert’s a traditional place to make intimate acquaintance with your demons as well — which is Read the rest of this entry »

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Be Fast To Offer Assistance

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, February 16, 2018

Lent is just getting under way, a good time to carefully consider one of its key traditions: fasting. What can fasting mean in our health-conscious culture? The fasting of Lent is not about Read the rest of this entry »

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Skeptical Of Authority

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

As any baker can tell you, a small amount of leaven — yeast — goes a long way, working its effect on a much larger mass of dough. For this reason Read the rest of this entry »

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Time For Trial

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 12, 2018

Everyone experiences difficulties at some point in their lives. No matter how fortunate a person may be, going a lifetime without Read the rest of this entry »

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Deliver Us From Every Evil

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 28, 2018

Even the best of us harbor within ourselves an unclean spirit or two. “Unclean” simply means not compatible with the holiness of God. This isn’t a condition any of us can afford to be in! Consider the garden variety Read the rest of this entry »

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Be A Living Example

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, January 26, 2018

Timothy and Titus were companions and coworkers of the apostle Paul. We call them bishops because Read the rest of this entry »

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The Impossible Is Possible

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 25, 2018

Have you or someone you know ever experienced a conversion? Conversion can take many forms. Someone turns their life around — recovering from an addiction, bouncing back from an illness or a setback and going at life in a whole new way. The amazing thing about Read the rest of this entry »

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How To Enjoy Early Retirement

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) led a full life, both before and after his relatively late decision to join the priesthood. In his era, a life of holiness was considered the domain of monks and nuns, certainly not of laypeople. But he believed God could and should be found in everyday life and was Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s not the end of the world

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 21, 2018

If there’s one thing we can use less of, it’s negative attitudes. After a brief perusal of daily headlines, we might be forgiven for thinking that the next six wars are preloaded, our food supply is toxic, strangers may be killers, and all leaders are liars. Yet our sacred story declares that Read the rest of this entry »

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Touch The Pain

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 18, 2018

When people are hurting, they seek the healing power of physical touch, just as those who followed Jesus did. Perhaps that is one reason why healing massage is one of the fastest-growing phenomena in our society. We seek to be healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually of what ails us, of that which Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s Your Call

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 14, 2018

Most of us are leery about accepting calls from unknown sources. In the happy age of Caller ID, it’s as if a virtual butler brings each visitor’s card on a silver tray into our drawing room. We can decline to be “home” to any undesirable contact. Still, people of Read the rest of this entry »

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Take In The Outcast

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 11, 2018

In the gospel era, lepers were considered rejects of society. According to the law of Moses, they had to announce their presence to everybody within earshot so they could be avoided. Yet, with a simple choice, a word, and a Read the rest of this entry »

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What possessed you?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

It’s worthy to note that the “unclean spirits” in the gospel stories speak in the plural: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” Why is that? The “possessed” person is Read the rest of this entry »

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Work With What You Have

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 4, 2018

And you thought you were busy? Consider Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1744 – 1821), the first citizen born in the United States to be canonized, who was canonized Sunday, September 14, 1975 in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Paul VI.

She was a New York Read the rest of this entry »

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Walking Through Darkness

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Saint John of the Cross (1542–1591), aka ‘San Juan de la Cruz’ in Spanish, was a Spanish mystic most well known for writing the highly-regarded book “The Dark Night of the Soul,” which explores Read the rest of this entry »

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All At Once

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 7, 2017

When a dispute arose about who was to be the new bishop of Milan, Ambrose (c. 339-397) stepped in to try to mediate the dispute. Ambrose is also remembered as Read the rest of this entry »

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A Jolly Good Tradition

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death (oil painting by Ilya Repin, 1888, State Russian Museum)Saint Nicholas spoke out against heresies and was imprisoned for a time for his Christian beliefs. His faithfulness is exemplary, but charity remains his signature virtue. What started with Nicholas tossing a few bags of coins into a poor family’s yard has been transformed over centuries of retelling, embellishing, grafting, and adapting into the magical tales of Ole Saint Nick (Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle), whose yearly ambition is to deliver gifts to every girl and boy. We may not Read the rest of this entry »

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To Know You Is To Love You

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In these times of war, political conflict, and growing poverty, it’s hard to imagine a state of affairs in which wisdom and justice reign and everything works together for the good. Yet that’s exactly Read the rest of this entry »

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Mindfulness 101

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, December 3, 2017

Be aware of your surroundings. Look where you’re going. Think before you speak. Remember to breathe. Be here now. Pithy reminders to be mindful have been sprinkled into the popular diet for so long, they tend to Read the rest of this entry »

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Move Beyond Pity

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, November 27, 2017

Widows in ancient times were to be pitied and granted favors, but of course, those filled with the Spirit had a tendency to turn perceptions upside down. So we find widows in the Bible who are models of faithfulness (1 Kings 17), insight (Luke 2), righteousness (Luke 18), and generosity (Luke 21). Whom do you pigeonhole as pitiable? Homeless people? The undocumented? People with Read the rest of this entry »

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