Long the counterweight to the state’s “public” functions — parochial schools, charity hospitals, etc — the American Catholic Church is uniquely positioned to advance the cause of liberty against Leviathan. Unfortunately, she has also become deeply entangled with the bureaucracy in ways that threaten freedom of conscience for all Americans, not just Catholics. There are three constructive ways the Church can resist the forces of tyranny: relinquish her tax-exempt status, remove her priests as agents of the state in marriage, and refuse tax dollars for her charitable organizations and activities.
Patrick Madrid is a noted Catholic apologist, author, and host of Catholic Radio’s Right Here, Right Now program. On a recent show, he advocated that the Church forfeit her tax-exempt status in order to more freely exercise her right to free speech. And, yes, she has that right, just as corporations do. She is an incorporated body: the Body of Christ.
The Church has an essential voice on morality and the benefits of virtue that accrue to the public good and affect public policy. Fear of losing her her tax-exempt status muffles — and arguably mutes — her voice. Even an issue as central as abortion has, in my experience, never been preached from the pulpit and is rarely mentioned in sermons. In the 2008 election, my parish’s message the weekend before the election was on “social justice.” The weekend after the election, someone (although not the homilist) spoke on abortion.More