Should religious institutions pay taxes? If they have entered the hospitality sector and are exploiting a legal loophole, says Pope Francis, then absolutely!
Should churches be tax exempt? There’s no easy – or clear – answer to this question, as not all religious institutions (or the people behind them), are the same.
Pope Francis’ opinion on the matter, however, might surprise you.
Right before his trip to America, Pope Francis spoke with a Portuguese Catholic broadcaster and discussed the need for Christians to fight the temptation of the ‘God of Money’.
According to the Catholic leader, too many institutions have opted to enter into the hospitality industry while exploiting a legal loophole in order to keep from paying taxes while they do “God’s work.”
“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.’ 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.”
According to Crux, it’s quite common for religious orders in Europe to rent space to assist with operating expenses. For example, a pensione operated by an order of nuns in Rome offers a room, breakfast, and Mass at 7 a.m. each day for $90 a night. Their rooftop can also be rented to CBS during major paypal events.
Francis’ message applies to orders such as the one described above.
In the interview, the Pope then went on to reiterate the message that the Church must set an example and help reform what he deems a “bad and unjust economic system” which continues to maximize profits at the expense of the masses.
He also complained of corruption among public officials “at all levels,” saying he’s noticed frustration among a new generation of young politicians.
“People are disappointed, partly because of corruption, partly because of inefficiency,” he said.
Not all of the religious leader’s messages have been received kindly by Catholics around the world, and this, too, will undoubtedly spark controversy.
What are your thoughts? Should churches not practicing charity be taxed? Should all religiousinstitutions be taxed? What about ‘mega-churches’ like the ones John Oliver talks about in the segment below?
Comment your thoughts below and please share this news!