Catholic Diocese Gets it Wrong on Taxes
Catholic bishops and several popes have long advocated for a just tax system that serves the common good. So it’s disappointing to see an editorial in the Diocese of Brooklyn’s official newspaper parroting Republican boilerplate on this issue.
“Personal income is eroded through taxation, therefore freedom to practice one’s religion is also limited,” the editorial states, arguing that high taxes prevent people from giving to religious charities including the bishop’s annual fundraising appeal. Is Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the newspaper’s publisher, drinking the Tea Party strong stuff?
Paul Moses at Commonweal has the story:
I am aghast at this reasoning, especially since I am aware that the publisher of The Tablet, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, appointed a panel from outside the paper’s regular staff to weigh these editorial stances carefully. According to the editorial board:
When over 50% of federal spending goes to entitlements or social services and the total tax burden is rising to the highest level in history, we are confronted with a situation in which the role of the state reaches so deeply into the everyday lives of citizens that it is affecting our ability even to support our religious institutions.
As Moses points out, the newspaper is factually wrong that taxes are at “the highest level in history” and the editorial contradicts a budget analysis issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that urges Congress to protect vital social safety nets. “The nation needs to substantially reduce future deficits, but not at the expense of hungry and poor people,” the bishops write.
This isn’t a new position Catholic leaders. In fact, the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter Economic Justice for All called for a more progressive tax system “so that those with relatively greater financial resources pay a higher rate of taxation.”
The Brooklyn diocese somehow missed the memo. If Catholic bishops hope to rise above narrow ideologies and the political season’s partisan fray it would help if they drop GOP talking points.