There is no doubt that the addition of tax revenue from the Church would be considerable, if hard to estimate. The 17,000-plus parishes may not all measure up to architectural wonders like St. Patrick’s in New York or the newer Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. But few Catholic churches have absolutely no value. What would 39.5% of all that be? How could Francis, or his subordinates in the United States object to voluntarily turning over part of their vast revenue?
Moody goes on to suggest that, if Catholics care so much for the poor, the Vatican should sell all their art treasures and give the proceeds to charity. He even proposes selling some icons or sculptures to al-Qaeda, presuming that those notorious iconoclasts would pay richly for the privilege of smashing them. As you could tell from that, this opinion piece is more moody than humorous. I still don't get the hypocrisy thing. If Francis is a hypocrite, he became one whenever he exhorted anyone else to voluntarily give up some of their wealth to the poor. Now, however, Moody is calling Francis a hypocrite for not giving up wealth voluntarily (despite his own widely-reported spartan lifestyle compared to his predecessor) because he advocates (according to Moody) a "forced redistribution" of wealth. But in that case the Pope would be a hypocrite only (and then only by extension) if American Catholics actively resisted taxation. Taken on his own, Bergoglio is not a hypocrite on Moody's own evidence, so long as the Vatican pays taxes to Italy. Moody, however, is most likely a Republican ideologue first and a Catholic second at best. He most likely views anyone as a hypocrite who tells anyone else to give to the poor without having bankrupted himself first. Moody, in typical Republican fashion, extols voluntary charity but assumes that its virtue resides not in its benefit but in its voluntary nature. Compulsory charity (i.e. taxes) is less virtuous, it would seem, not because there's less benefit to the poor -- that depends on how the money is spent, not on how it's acquired -- but because the man of wealth earns no spiritual brownie points through voluntary action. Odd that it's the Pope, not the Republican, who seems to realize that spiritual brownie points aren't the only things that matter in this discussion. Francis might still be called a hypocrite, however, but he could dodge the charge by saying what Moody wouldn't dare have him say: that the tax-exemption of all churches in the U.S. should end.