Catholic Conference supports asking wealthy to pay more

| Susan Klemond For The Catholic Spirit | March 2, 2011 | 9 Comments

Father McCauley

Minnesota needs to solve its current state budget crisis justly by asking those with higher incomes to pay more in taxes to prevent the poor — already hit hard by the economic downturn — from having to bear more of the burden, said Father David McCauley, interim executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

The organization represents the state’s Cath­o­lic bishops on public policy matters.

“As a nation and a state, we face incredible budget deficits,” Father McCauley said, during his keynote address at the Feb. 17 Day on the Hill gathering or­ga­nized by the Joint Religious Le­gis­lative Coalition at St. Paul RiverCentre.

“It is the role of government to responsibly respond to the deficits,” he added. “It seems our choice is to raise revenue or fail in justice — in meeting the needs of the common good. Yes, those who are able are called on to share more fully so those who lack are not denied justice.”

Commenting later, Father Mc­Cau­ley said he supports Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision to “bite the bullet” and propose tax increases for top earners.

“He’s putting the greater burden on those who can most afford it, himself included, and a lesser one on people in the upper middle class, not on the poor,” he said.

Group acts on faith

The JRLC is a Minnesota-based non-partisan interfaith public policy organization whose membership includes Catholics, Christians of other denominations, Jews and Muslims. At this year’s Day on the Hill, 850 participants were briefed on social justice issues and then visited legislators at the state Capitol.

Beside supporting Dayton’s tax increase proposal, the MCC is concerned about proposed cuts to nursing home funding, the workforce and affordable housing, said Katie Conlin, MCC interim social concerns director.

Following announcement of an improved state budget forecast Feb. 28, Dayton released a revised budget that does not include cuts to emergency assistance for adults or to community action agencies.

Among the cuts proposed by the Legislature, which Dayton later re­jected, the MCC was especially concerned about reductions in child protection and child support payment enforcement, and emergency assistance grants, she said. It’s too early to know if those cuts will be back on the table as the Legislature prepares a complete budget, Conlin added.

While some sectors of the economy have shown recovery since the 2008 downturn, unemployment, the use of homeless shelters or food shelves and mortgage foreclosures have not, Father McCauley said. That, coupled with real estate taxes, assessments and service reductions has affected the poor. The state and country’s tax systems aren’t as progressive as they once were, he said.

Who is our neighbor?

For some, government has be­come an enemy.

“We have lost the realization that our individual well-being is tied to the well-being of our neighbors,” he said. “Through our government, we build roads and hire teachers; we employ police and firefighters to keep us safe and establish courts to maintain order, we protect our land and build parks; we must also care for the poor, the powerless, and empower them.”

Sue Kainz of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park said the annual Day on the Hill offers people of faith an opportunity to remind legislators of the needs of the less fortunate as they make legislative decisions.

Kainz, who has attended the event for 13 years, is Minnesota FoodShare’s March campaign coordinator. “Those people don’t have a voice,” she said. “We have to continue to be that voice.”

Our freedom as Americans comes with responsibility, Father Mc­Cau­ley said.

“Too often, in reflecting on freedom, we look only to a freedom from unjust aggressors, freedom from illness, freedom from exploitation — and, too seldom, the freedom to work together to overcome natural disasters,  to defeat threats to our security, to end injustice — and, let’s be very pragmatic  to deal with budget deficits.”

CSJ’s justice coordinator honored for her work

Joänne Tromiczak-Neid, coordinator of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Justice Office, was presented the Lawrence D. Gibson Social Justice Award Feb. 17 by the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition during its annual Day on the Hill.

Tromiczak-Neid has served as justice coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph and Consociates since 1992. During that time, her work of advocating for the common good has been recognized on local, state and national levels.

Tromiczak-Neid has focused on coordinating CSJ-affiliated groups to meet the needs of the times through education, advocacy and action.

“One of Joänne’s great gifts is her ability to bring people of diverse backgrounds together and to enable dialogue among them,” said St. Joseph Sister Susan Oeffling. “She also has wonderful networking skills and has built partnerships with so many groups outside our CSJ community, which has strengthened our work in social justice.”

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  • Brent

    why more in taxes? is it so wealth can be redistibuted? then no. if it is so all can pay their fair share, advocate a flat tax so that each is allowed to pay by percent an equal amount though the "rich" would pay more in actual dollars. Forcing the "rich" to pay taxes so that the government can then turn around and "give" it to the "poor" is not charity, it is marxism. Charity is when the individual gives freely. The Church by advocating the position in this article comes off as an arm of the Democratic party rather than a moral guide to charitable action.

  • Penny Lane

    When Jesus was questioned about Caesar, he said "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

    Our Caesar makes things complicated by having different formulas for who owes what.

    I think all members of a community / county / state / country should pay a fair share so that government is able to maintain services and infrastructure for the citizens.

    People that don't want to pay a fair share should seek another place to live where they can have zero services if they want to pay zero taxes.

    • Brad

      And this article is sent out on the weekend that we get to hear the Archbishop's annual Appeal. My heart aches for what is happening in the Church.

    • The “wealthy” (top 10 percent of wage earners and wealth holders) already pay up to seventy percent of the taxes levied in the United States.  They are paying their share!
      to tto the lower 90 percent

    • The “wealthy” (top 10 percent of wage earners and wealth holders) already pay up to seventy percent of the taxes levied in the United States.  They are paying their share!
      to tto the lower 90 percent

  • Brad

    The more the Church gets into politics and supports the notion the wealthy can afford to give more to the government, then the more the Church should be accepting of losing those funds that the wealthy give to the Church since they advocate what the government does. Why does the Church support such actions? Why would the Church be complicit in giving more to a government that uses some of the funds for things like abortion clinics. I may be wrong, but isn't the new Congress in Washington trying to defund Planned Parenthood right now?
    Honestly, I am enraged by this article. I am truly considering taking what I give to my parish and sending it all to Friends of the Orphans. We sponsor a child through that organization as well as one through Compassion, and we work with Feed My Starving Children. Theses organizations are much more worthy of our charity than the Minnesota Government. Shame on you Fr. McCauley.

  • Brent

    Allen West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and freshman congressman from Florida represents, even if he is not Catholic, the umbridge many Catholics have with the MCC direction. Unafraid to skewer progressive sacred cows, he speaks boldly against global jihad and its Fifth Column enablers screaming "Islam-o-phobe!" West has also nailed the Congressional Black Caucus as "a monolithic voice that promotes these liberal social welfare policies and programs that are failing in the black community, that are preaching victimization and dependency; that's not the way that we should go."

  • Theresa

    And tell me when the government ever uses our tax dollars as efficiently as a charity. . . .ever. Pay more taxes for what? To fund Planned Parenthood? For more government programs that trap people in poverty? There is a good reason Mary Jo Copeland does not take any money from our archdiocese. My annual catholic appeal check is going to her this year.

  • Kevin

    Families, parishes and even the archdiocese are budgeting for less income during these challenging economic times.

    Has Fr McCauley or the Minnesota Catholic Conference even analyzed any of the budget proposals offered by the Governor or the Republicans in the legislature? Have they compared them to previous years budgets? Surely there are programs that can be funded at the previous biennium's levels or ineffective, redundant programs can be pruned, and waste can be eliminated.

    Taxation is not charity.