Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Proposed: the Roman Catholic Church should be driven out of the United States of America

I'm not suggesting anything as drastic as outlawing the Catholic Church.

There is an article in Monday's NYTimes about the threat to women's rights posed by mergers of secular with Catholic hospitals. The problem is best illustrated by this statement from  Rev. Thomas Weinandy, the executive director of the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine:
“If you go to a Catholic medical institution, you’re going to get medical advice that is in keeping with the moral norms of that institution,” Father Weinandy said. “We think Catholic medical advice is the best medical advice to give.”
That got me thinking about how it came about that the Catholic Church now dominates the US hospital system to the point were it can shove its misogynist socio-political views down the throats of American women.

I speculated on FB about it, and one FB friend suggested that it was because 30 years ago nuns worked as nurses in Catholic hospitals (with the tacit understanding that brides of Christ are incredibly underpaid and thus the savings were passed on to the Catholic hospitals.)

But that didn't make sense, because nuns also used to subsidize Catholic schools, and the nun shortage must have impacted Catholic hospitals as much as it impacted Catholic schools. And yet the Catholic hospital system is expanding while Catholic schools are closing down in record numbers.

I did a little research.

According to the National Catholic Reporter:
Turning to hospitals, just one Catholic system -- Ascension Health, the country's largest, with 1,400 locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia -- had revenues of $15 billion in 2011, exceeding the combined haul for all parishes. There are 56 Catholic health care systems in America, and in 2010, the Catholic Health Association reported they had total expenses of $98.6 billion. That's almost 10 times the amount spent by parishes, and a fraction under 50 times the amount spent by dioceses. 
Catholic Charities USA, one of the largest private charitable networks in the United States, had revenues in 2010 of $4.67 billion, of which $2.9 billion came from the government and most of the rest from private donations. This one charity, in other words, collected more in public funds alone than all the country's dioceses spent.
That's right, Catholic Charities gets 62% of its money from the government. That means taxpayers like you and me. And what does Catholic Charities do with its money - fight the government to be allowed to shove its religion down the taxpayers throats:
In 2004, the Catholic Charities of Sacramento, a social-service organization, brought suit over the Women’s Contraception Equity Law, which required it to provide its employees with contraception coverage. The law made an exception for churches, just as the Obama regulation does, based on the criteria that such “religious employers” primarily hire people who embrace the tenets of the faith and exist mainly to inculcate religious beliefs, but Catholic Charities did not qualify on those grounds. 
Now of course it also cost the US taxpayers to pay for the lawsuit defense too.

But as the Economist explains the Catholic Church is also using its special status to game the system and through that earn money for its hospitals (my emphases):
Although funding for religious groups is prohibited under the state’s constitution, a series of court rulings has opened the door to bond issues. Catholic groups there have raised at least $12 billion through muni bonds over the past decade. Of that, some $9 billion went to hospitals. In one case, in San Jose, the money went to buy chancery offices for the bishop.
The dioceses back their bonds with letters of credit from banks. Among the most active guarantors are Allied Irish Banks (AIB), US Bancorp and Wells Fargo. None of the banks was prepared to discuss the financial terms of these contracts.
Muni bonds are generally tax-free for investors, so the cost of borrowing is lower than it would be for a taxable investment. In other words, the church enjoys a subsidy more commonly associated with local governments and public-sector projects. If the church has issued more debt in part to meet the financial strains caused by the scandals, then the American taxpayer has indirectly helped mitigate the church’s losses from its settlements. Taxpayers may end up on the hook for other costs, too. For example, settlement of the hundreds of possible abuse cases in New York might cause the closure of Catholic schools across the city.
That right there is the smoking gun. The Catholic Church is exploiting its ability to hide its financial records as a religion, while operating as a government or public-sector body to make money through tax-free municipal bonds.

The Catholic Church is getting all kinds of subsidies from American taxpayers, and they are passing the oppression directly onto the American taxpayers, especially women.

Stephen Colbert explains how it works:

So it's clear the the most effective way to rid the United States of this antiquated, evil, misogynist organization is to stop handing it huge quantities of taxpayer money.