This is in reference to the article:
Catholic Church collects $1.6 billion in U.S. contracts, grants since 2012 – Washington Times
Not to be lost in the pomp and circumstance of Pope Francis’ first visit to Washington is the reality that the Catholic Church he oversees has become one of the largest recipients of federal largesse in America.
Catholic Charities USA, the largest charitable organization run by the church, receives about 65 percent of its annual budget from state and federal governments, making it an arm of the federal welfare state
Fifty-seven government agencies are now contracting with the Catholic Church. If the church were a state, its $1.6 billion in funding would rank it about 43rd out of the 50 states in total federal funding
because the Catholic Church and its charities are so ingrained in the U.S. government’s welfare system, it’s hard to reform and better it. For example, in 1996 Catholic Charities lobbied heavily against welfare-reform law and met with then-President Clinton to help derail it. At the time, a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Fred Kammer, who is now the director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University, said the welfare-reform law would be “a national social catastrophe. No one will be spared the consequences.”
What is the point of this article?
This article is so lacking in meaningful detail as to bring into serious question the journalistic competence of the author, and the intellectual integrity of the sources. The author commits an error that is so common in what passes for “journalism” in today’s age of selectively cultivated indignation and outrage, which is once again the failure to establish the context in which the information would make sense and therefore make the article a useful contribution to civic discourse.
If we are to find fault with the concept of tax collections being used to fund welfare through private charities, Catholic or other, then at the very least the people who have access to the numbers should report:
1. How much the government, the private and the religious charities each spend on the different kinds of welfare programs.
2. What their overhead costs are, relative to the direct benefit to welfare recipients.
3. What their success rates are, that is, actually helping people out of dependence into self sufficiency.
4. To what extent high taxes have driven down or dried up donations to charities, and planted the idea that government welfare programs have effectively replaced private charities.
5. To what extent religious charities are willing to help people of other faiths, and to what extent government plays favorites with people from different segments of society.
Such data is particularly relevant because:
1. There is little doubt that the government’s idea of welfare is to sustain and grow the program by keeping the beneficiaries dependent and their numbers increasing. No bureaucrat ever worked himself or his department out of a cushy gig.
2. Certain private “charities” run with a 95% overhead, and others pay their officers and fundraisers exorbitant salaries.
3. Religious charities, and Catholics in particular are staffed by priests and nuns who at the very least live very modestly, by volunteers who are not doing it for the money, and by employees who are paid very little.
I can find no such data in this article, and therefore have no choice but to see it as a piece of religion-bashing in general and Catholic-bashing in particular, because it’s published at the time of the pope’s visit.
Were we to see such data being reported by the “experts” such as those used as sources for this article, we might find, for example, that private charities are able to deliver welfare services more efficiently than the government, or that they have a higher success rate in getting people off welfare and into independent living, and therefore it is the government who should go out of the welfare business. Or vice versa. The point is, you can’t expect everyday people to know the facts, and if you have experts who make it their business to get the facts, then the least a journalist can do is report the “rest of the story.”
After we examine and lay to rest the issue of efficiency, then it’s appropriate to tackle philosophical issues such as the “separation” of church and state, “proselytizing” as part of assistance, or using the theory of the golden rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) or the piper (he who pays the piper calls the tune), using private charity to push “liberal” issues, state-approved political agenda and propaganda, voter registration (Democrat, of course), etc.
Of course when we do THAT, the conclusion is inevitable. The idea of government-run welfare is untenable on constitutional, philosophical and moral grounds. Charity begins at home, not in a government bureaucracy. As in everything else, the only duty of the federal government under the Constitution — in accordance with its specification of limited, enumerated powers — is to stay as unobtrusive as possible, tax as little as possible, and let the people manage their own affairs — including their charitable activities — according to their own best judgement and abilities.
Were we accustomed to seeing the Constitution and the federal government in their originally intended role in society, there would not be question and stimulated outrage over government and private or religious charities being intertwined in a labyrinthine mess.