Your Tax Dollars May Be Supporting Abusers: The Problem of Government Support of Catholic Charities

The sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by Roman Catholic Clerics is the most damaging financial event in over two centuries. Not since Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) turned over the Papal States (central Italy) and disbanded the Papal army in the 1860s has the Church lost so many assets. Just recently, the bishops of California settled for in excess of 1.8 billion U.S. Dollars with national totals closing in on $4 billion.

But they shouldn’t be surprised … The 1985 Doyle/Peterson/Mouton Report warned the bishops of $1 billion worth of exposure.

What should concern the average American are the billions of Federal and State government dollars given to Catholic Charities for social services.

Yes, your tax dollars.

We can only hope that taxpayers and the government will take notice.

Just think: what will happen when society FINALLY makes the connection that the same bishops covering-up the rape of thousands of children are taking millions of tax dollars for Roman Catholic orphanages, day care centers, and social service centers?

Even when many of these places were the backdrop for decades of sexual abuse.

The 2007 Official Catholic Directory, the official communication between the United States Bishops and the I.R.S. for tax exception purposes, claims the following number of facilities and children under their care:

Residential Care facilities of Children (Orphanages): 986
Total assisted annually: 60,861
Day Care and Extended Day Care Centers: 1,231
Total assisted annually: 115,190
Special Centers for Social Services: 3,007

Total assisted annually: 27,887,358

I can only imagine what a federal inquiry would uncover.

If there were one policy change I suggest for the new president, congress, attorney general, and all state governors it is this:

Get out of the business of supporting the Roman Catholic Church through grants to Catholic Charities and related services.

There are other groups who can perform the same task with equal professionalism. No quantity or quality of good done by Catholic Charities personnel can cancel or forgive the criminal conduct condoned by the U.S. Bishops.

And I wonder: what is the legal liability for the government when children are abused in Catholic programs funded by tax dollars?

Many civil lawyers and government attorneys will rightly claim that the government tort claims act will stop or hinder such claims. Legally, I am sure that is correct.

But I believe that good does conquer evil. I also believe that the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults is an age-old reality in the life of the Catholic Church that will likely continue.

And the government should and must get out of the business of supporting the Catholic Church.

Finally: It is hard to believe that the Archdiocese of Chicago paid for the Defenbaugh report but it is a nice summary of how the post Dallas 2002 system still doesn’t protect children.



Filed under Clergy Sex Abuse

3 responses to “Your Tax Dollars May Be Supporting Abusers: The Problem of Government Support of Catholic Charities

  1. hrharvat

    Finally, FINALLY, we see this continuing obscenity in print. Congratulations, Mr Wall. You’ve got a pair of brass ones. Keep up the good, no, great work.

    You and Father Doyle (known as Saint Tom in our house) are truly doing God’s work. Somebody has to. The US Bish Club sure ain’t!

    Good grief, how did it ever come to this?!?!?!?!?!

  2. frrobert

    I’m afraid I’m a little muddled. In your third-to-last paragraph, Mr. Wall, you say you believe that good can overcome evil. Yet earlier, you said that no amount of good done by Catholic Charities can cancel or forgive the actions, or inaction, of some bishops. What do you really believe? Can good overcome evil, or not?

    In most dioceses where Catholic Charities is present, the bishop may be named as head of the corporation under which Charities operates, but the operations are usually entrusted to a director, who must answer to a board, as well as to the state and federal agencies that may supply funds.

    Taking money away from Catholic Charities isn’t going to hurt the bishops. It’s going to hurt poor people, especially children.

  3. jcasteix


    Well, I also believe that good can overcome evil, but that does not mean that one should put blind trust in organizations that have not shown contrition, accountability and true change.

    Simply because someone selectively commits one good act, it does not erase a wake of atrocious acts for which that person has not made amends.

    I like to look at it this way: Would you hire Charles Keating to “head of the corporation” of the bank where you keep your retirement savings? Even though he may have done quite a few good things lately, Keating has not earned anyone’s trust.

    The “good” that Wall is talking about is a federal inquiry, not one action of a bishop who pledges an oath to keep victims of sex abuse silent.

    And please don’t say, “Well, my bishop is a good guy.” Until he stands side by side with victims and invites them, law enforcement, and federal investigators in to review all of his personnel files, he is a part of the problem.

    In case you haven’t noticed, children – thousands of them – have already been hurt because of the bishops. If anyone else is hurt because of an end to federal funding of Catholic Charities, the blame resides square on the bishops’ shoulders, not with people who demand justice and accountability for children.

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