Should the Canadian Roman Catholic Church lose tax exemption and non-profit status over refusal to abide its own beliefs?

Posted: April 20, 2018 by Ty in Current Events, Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Now I have gone back and forth on taxing the churches my whole life. For me it comes down do they fulfill what their beliefs say, do no promote hatred, and are community involved is really what should allow them the privilege they have. Yes it is a privilege, and the religious communities need to remember that, it takes quite a bit to get that privilege in Canada.

And, the Roman Catholic Church has held a special part of my faith journey. I have seen welcoming parishes, and parishes that have bent over backwards to ensure belonging of all God’s Children. I love the mystery, and the sacraments, and the depth-breadth of theological and social science discourse that can happen. During my Franciscan formation there was no Ecumenical or Anglican group in the city so I fellow-shipped with the Secular Franciscan Order, have used the FCJ centre for personal retreat, and been in one parishes Lay Ministry of Praise (prayer).

But I do believe it is time for the Canadian Government to take a stand that will rile many, but I believe it is necessary. Those watching current events of the political nature in Canada have noted the fact that due to the structure of the Roman Catholic Church it is easy for the Vatican to duck responsibility on issues and to be held account for abuses. It usually allows the local diocese, and parish to take the hits while avoiding any hint of “official responsibility”. Popes will speak of personal remorse or sorrow around abuse (residential, sexual) that has happened to parishners, residential school survivors (not just Canadian, it was a format they used on other continents). The most lawyerly of answers.

Which is an affront to one of their key 7 Sacraments to stay in true good Communion with the Body of Christ. That is what was once known as the Sacrament of Confession, since Vatican II has become the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In its essence, it is admitting a wrong one has committed and seeking out within one’s whole person to be reconciled new, and to make amends to the party harmed. What are we to do with a group that will not honour their own belief systems? Core beliefs at that? A group that’s inaction has left them from following through on monetary support to residential school survivors, and due to lack of official apology are putting the TRC process in jeopardy for our hurting nation. TRC-Truth and Reconciliation- let that set in for what the church is avoiding.

You will read and hear many reasons and rationales. Some Conservative MP’s would not support the unanimous call to action to get the Pope to Canada. They sited their conscience against a government curtailing a group’s freedom of religion (I have no issue with free votes, as I have noted I dislike and think the whipped vote is unconstitutional)…yet we need to be pragmatic when thinking of freedom of religion as halting this. What else could be avoided judicially and civilly by a religious group hiding behind this? (I think of stories around Jehovah Witness’ cover ups; and other cover ups under this guise).

What is at play is simply will the Pope, head of the Vatican State and spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church truly enter the sacrament of reconciliation with all victims of his church’s practice and cover up. Will the Canadian Bishops allow it on our soil?  Personally, I would love to see it happen from the throne of the Vatican as a declaration made from the infallibility position. Would it be painful for the Vatican, its dioceses, parishes and religious orders? Yes. Would many lands, buildings and monies be lost? Yes.

But here is what happens when a body is held to account and lives out the professed beliefs…think of what healing would happen within the world.

Second best, if games continue to be played…then tax them like any other business.

Further Reading:

Bishops push back

Conservative MP blocks Unanimous Call for Residential School Apology from Pope Francis

 

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