Bishop Says Church May Have to Rethink Tax-Exempt Status

Sees Limits on Free Speech

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ARLINGTON, Virginia, JAN. 16, 2001 (
Retired Bishop Thomas J. Welsh suggested that the time may come when the Church has to say it will give up its tax-exempt status, since “our message isn´t getting out.”

In an interview with the Arlington Catholic Herald, the founding bishop of the Arlington Diocese, also expressed frustration at the voting pattern of most Catholics in the United States during the recent election.

“I find it most alarming because in this election there was a clear-cut choice,” he said. “We had the experience of the last eight years of the political consequences of a pro-abortion government — all the things that they can do at the local, national and international levels.”

The bishop, who is also the former ordinary of the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was troubled not only by hypocritical citizens but also by politicians.

“What disturbs me, then, is the politician, man or woman, who wants to have it both ways,” he told the Herald. “They say, ´I´m a Catholic,´ then espouse all sorts of things that the Catholic Church says are wrong.”

He lamented that the Church is constrained in what it is allowed to say by its tax-exempt status. He noted lawsuits have been filed costing the Church hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend, centering on stripping the tax status of the Church based on charges that it is too political.

The bishop suggested that the time might come when the Church will give up its tax-exempt status in order to be able to speak more freely. He noted his speech was restricted saying, “But with the responsibility of being a bishop, I can´t speak as a private citizen anymore. I would like to. I should be able to.”

“The Lord didn´t say, ´I´m with you all the time, except on some major issues,´” he noted. “The Church is supposed to be guiding people on a day-to-day basis on how to get to heaven. … We are saying this (abortion) is intrinsically evil. There´s no time for anybody at any place to have an abortion and say, ´this is right.´ It´s always, always wrong.”

See the interview at:

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