The Catholic sex-abuse scandal could have a devastating effect on the church’s finances in Italy, Vatican officials fear.
Under a system in force in Italy – and several other European countries – taxpayers can opt to have a proportion of their taxes given to the church, and in Italy about 0.8 percent of tax revenue is split between state-run aid organizations and religions, according to the Guardian.
The paper quotes the daily newspaper La Stampa, which in turn quotes a Vatican source as saying: “The media always talk of class actions, compensation for the victims of abuse by the clergy and the legal fees which, since 2001 have forced the American dioceses to sell schools, hospitals, convents and universities. But in fact the biggest economic damage is done by the collapse in donations.”
The Guardian says many Catholics across Europe say the scandals have robbed them of their faith, and so there is a risk that this year’s income could be much lower.
“In Germany, where church membership is registered and has a direct impact on church funds, pollsters for Focus magazine this month found that 26% of Catholics were reconsidering their religious allegiance,” says the paper.
On Tuesday, we reported on how a UK diplomat at the centre of a row over a leaked memo concerning the Pope’s visit to Britain in September had been named as Anjoum Noorani, the leader of the Foreign Office’s Papal Visit Team.
The memo emerged from a brainstorming session, and among the suggestions for the visit were “Benedict condoms”, that the Pope should do a duet with the Queen, that he should open an abortion ward in a hospital and that he should bless a same-sex marriage.
Britain apologized to the Vatican after the memo was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, and earlier this week the Vatican said it would make no difference to the visit.
Yesterday’s Daily Telegraphreported that Noorani, whose identity has until now remained secret, was moved to “other duties” after he gave authorization for the memo to be sent to Downing Street and three Whitehall departments.
And the civil servant who chaired the brainstorm session was revealed to be Steven Mulvain, who, like Noorani, is a graduate of Oxford University. He hasn’t been disciplined for his role in the affair.
The Pope’s UK visit rapidly became a controversial topic. It has led to demonstrations, because of his apparent cover-up of priestly child molestation when he was a cardinal and because of the huge cost to the UK taxpayer. If the visit were a pastoral one rather than a state one, this cost would be met by the Catholic Church, but it could cost Britain up to £20 million, plus the expense of security, which will come from existing police funds.
A recent suggestion by the Pope’s second-in-command, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, that child abuse and paedophilia were connected with homosexuality brought condemnation even from fellow Catholics in the UK.
Recently, the atheist authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens put their weight behind a plan to have the Pope arrested when he gets to Britain and charged under international law with crimes against humanity.