Misuse of donor money: financial abuse, yet another reason to leave the Catholic Church
By Ryan Jayne
Freedom of Religion Foundation
Sexual abuse of crawling children and cover-up. The Crusades. The Inquisitions. Convince the children that they will go to Hell or Purgatory if they do not follow the instructions. Teach that condoms are worse than AIDS. Castration of boys for choral singing. The Index of Forbidden Books. The pope’s ridiculous hat. The Catholic Church has a rich history (literally – the Vatican has accumulated great wealth since its inception) of giving its adherents reason to resign. For those holding on, the last few days have delivered another.
It turns out that 10 people in the church, including a cardinal, have allegedly defrauded the Vatican in several ways. In one project, nearly half a billion dollars in church assets, mostly made up of tithes and donations from worshipers, would have been used to purchase a property supposed to be turned into luxury apartments in an affluent neighborhood of London. In another double-game project, the cardinal involved in the first scam, Angelo Becciu, is also accused of channeling donations to his brothers’ businesses in Sardinia.
Embezzlement, fraud and other financial crimes are common among churches. Indeed, connoisseurs estimate that around the world, churches lose $ 63 billion every year to the internal “ecclesiastical crime”. This makes sense, as churches have historically been shielded from government scrutiny, combined with a fraudulent plating of divine morality that makes people believe churches are the safest places to donate charitable funds. A high price for an imaginary product without liability – what could go wrong?
Sunlight is the proverbial best disinfectant, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, and this is true when it comes to charitable giving. To put it simply: don’t donate funds to an organization that keeps its finances a secret. In the United States, nonprofits must at a minimum file a publicly available Form 990 with the IRS, which is mandatory for secular nonprofits but optional – and very rare – for churches.
This recent half-billion-dollar fraud should hopefully kick the last leg from under the stool that keeps many worshipers from showing up thoughtlessly and handing their hard-earned money back to church. “The church is doing good things! we still hear. Well, there are a myriad of secular nonprofits to choose from that not only do great things but are also financially transparent and don’t lose billions of dollars a year to an internal scam. Additionally, faith-based organizations that “do good things” often end up discriminating against minorities or using their theology to justify bad behavior, as was the case with Catholic social services in the recent Supreme Court case, Fulton v. City of philadelphia.
Once believers realize that all of their childhood threats of eternal damnation were a lie, and their church donations likely simply end up in a cardinal’s investment account or are turned over to the brother’s business of a cardinal, they should take that as their starting signal. and never come back.
Of course, the Vatican wants to reassure everyone that things are different now, and that it will be more transparent in the future. Believe it at your own risk. Instead, Catholics should heed the old Christian adage, “God never closes a door without opening a window” – if the church door is locked, crawl out the window.
Get out of there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Jayne received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Honors College in 2007. After graduation, Ryan taught piano and chess while working as a financial advisor until 2012, when he began his law studies at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. . While in law school he focused on intellectual property and animal law, serving as associate editor of Lewis & Clark’s Animal Law Review and co-founding the Northwest’s first secular legal society. of the Pacific. Ryan graduated with Distinction in 2015, began working with the FFRF in January 2015, and became Diane Uhl Legal Fellow in September 2015, specializing in faith-based government funding. Ryan became staff attorney for the FFRF in September 2017.
Photo via Wikipedia by Claude Truong-Ngoc under CC BY-SA 4.0