Bishops as policy wonks

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 13, 2005

If you live in Minnesota, your taxes aren't high enough.

That's what the Catholic bishops of Minnesota say, and they should know, because bishops are experts on public policy in general, and fiscal management in particular. (Have you noticed how prudent our bishops have been recently in their handling of their own diocesan budgets?)

Frankly, I don't live in Minnesota, and I don't know what the state's tax structure is like. I do have a pretty good idea of how much the Catholic bishops pay in taxes, however. And I'm guessing that while they don't find their tax burden onerous, it's a different story for folks trying to make ends meet on their family farm.

But the bishops aren't worried about the effect of higher taxes on struggling middle-class families. "We know they are willing to sacrifice for their poor brothers and sisters facing difficult financial hardships," they assure us.

Wait: If they "are willing to sacrifice" and (a consideration the bishops never address) have the means to sacrifice, couldn't they already help the poor by contributing to non-profit agencies. Come to think of it, couldn't Church agencies help the poor, support by voluntary contributions from the faithful?

No, the bishops tell us; "… we cannot rely on the solutions of the recent past, since these solutions would only cause greater hardship than ever for families and individuals already financially stressed." Ah, yes; and higher taxes won't put financial stress on anyone. Now I understand.

In their statement on the issue, the bishops explain why the state government needs more money:

Government requires the payment of taxes from its citizens because it has the responsibility to serve the common good, provide a safety net for the vulnerable, defend human life, rights and dignity, overcome discrimination and ensure equal opportunity. Among other things, taxes allow us to build road and develop public transit systems, educate our children, protect our families and homes, invest in economic and agricultural development, safeguard our environment, and most importantly, care for our brothers and sisters in need.

If you look at that list of the alleged functions of government, two things should strike you. First, the authors of the US Constitution would put many of those functions outside the sphere of a limited government. Second, authors of the four Gospels would defined them as clearly within the mission of Christ's Church.

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 14, 2005 1:29 PM ET USA

    I live in MN. The bishops (I can particularly comment on Flynn & Harrington) are pathetic. They are allergic to orthodoxy, their dioceses suffer from a lack of vocations, most Masses have numerous liturgical abuses and stupid homilies, etc. Letters regarding such issues are ignored. I want to see them fix their dioceses, preach undiluted, orthodox Roman Catholicism, and to start living less comfortably themselves. Until then, they should keep their forced Socialism to themselves.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 5:14 PM ET USA

    SAVOR THE IRONY! Remember the New Testament tax collectors? They were called to become Saints. Now, in SAINT Paul, the Bishops are called to become tax collectors. You could knock me off my Damscan horse with a feather; birds of a feather defrock together.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 4:59 PM ET USA

    I live in Minn ,now retired and our taxes are one of the highest in the nation,I had tried for years to implament a tithing program on a diocese wide bases ,but was turned down flat ,by these same Bishops who said it would be a hardship on the people,but I guess it's ok to ask people of other faiths to step up and cover for thier own ineptitude

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Jan. 13, 2005 1:34 PM ET USA

    Me thinks the Minnesota bishops (particularly Harry Flynn) should concentrate their efforts on doing THEIR jobs, and leave the politics to the politicians. Amazing how "voter's guides" that are harsh on pro-choice politicians are a no-no...........yet recommendations on taxation are justifiable. What hypocrites!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 1:30 PM ET USA

    And they asked him, "Is it lawful to pay taxes?" So he requested that they show him a coin. "Whose image is on this coin?" he asked. "Why, President Hillary Clinton's!" they replied. "Well, then give unto Clinton the things that are Clinton's and also unto Clinton the things that are God's, yours and mine."

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 12:15 PM ET USA

    Amazing, isn’t it? These 7 bishops have no problem coming together in a timely & unambiguous manner to address a (arguably) legitimate civil problem; yet, when forced to consider any number of contentious & weighty issues of the Church, they delay, dodge and deceive. As for this particular issue, it is obvious that these fellows have no knowledge of the concept of limited government. Your Excellencies: By definition, there is no such thing as a “just and equitable” tax. All taxes are onerous.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 11:33 AM ET USA

    I was under the impression the Christ said take care of your brother through the goodness of your heart. I thought the Bishops' job was to explain "what the goodness of our heart is..." and not give up and say it's the government's job to extract Caesar's coin. Studies show that faith base programs work better than government programs - they have to get that message out.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 11:20 AM ET USA

    The bishops need to stick to the business of being apostles and let others make judgments about what taxes are equitable.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2005 9:24 AM ET USA

    Frankly, I grew up in Minnesota, and I don't live there anymore. It isn't just the taxes that are onerous. It is all the socialist busy bodies who know better than you do what to do with your money, your property, and your time. As for education, modernism is just not progressive enough; they have, for example, laws requiring parental training before a newborn can be taken home from the hospital.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jan. 13, 2005 9:20 AM ET USA

    Harry Crocker in Triumph makes the point that goverments were weak because they were decentralized and taxes were taken out at several levels. Efficient means of tax collection like wage witholding were centuries away. This meant that the Church in its mission would provide for the poor, schools, hospitals, etc. directly. Then, more money for the state meant less for the Church's mission. The CBM now shill for Caesar so that it can get the scraps which fall off Caesar's table.