Wednesday, January 14, 2009

City of San Francisco Goes After Church

From today's San Francisco Chronicle:

"San Francisco will try to collect up to $15 million in taxes from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which is refusing to pay certain taxes on properties the church is transferring from one Catholic nonprofit organization to another.

That tax bill would be the second largest of its kind in San Francisco history. But the archdiocese has appealed the charge, saying the church should be exempt from property transfer taxes for a variety of reasons - primarily because the properties are being moved among groups that all are a part of the same overarching organization: the Archdiocese of San Francisco."

This action comes right on the heels of the Archdiocese's support of Proposition 8, which was opposed by the entire power structure of San Francisco, and it is in keeping with the City's hostility to the Church, notably expressed in Resolution 168-06, which was unanimously passed by the City's Board of Supervisors on March 21, 2006, and which called the Catholic Church "hateful and discriminatory" for asserting that adoptive children should be raised in a home with a mother and a father. Faithful San Francisco Catholics have sued the city in Federal Court over that action, and a ruling is pending.

Is there a connection between the Church's defense of natural marriage and the City Assessor's action? Jack Hammel, attorney for the Archdiocese of San Francisco said:

"The city has applied the law in an uneven fashion (e.g. We are aware of non-Archdiocesan, non-Catholic charities which have transferred property to other charities and no transfer tax has been levied)."

City Assessor Phil Ting responded:

"San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting said the tax is fair and equitable. He said his office spent months investigating the archdiocese's case and considering all of the reasons the church might be exempt from the tax."

Phil Ting, Phil Ting....where have we heard that name before? That's right, he's the city official who in June, 2008 officiated at at least one same-sex “wedding.” From Sing Tao Daily:

“Phil Ting spoke after the ceremony and said that he is very glad to marry gay and lesbian couples and very happy to see the day that the California government will allow their gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry.”

And of course Mr. Ting was one of the "Honorary Committee" members at the going-away party for immediate past Catholic Charities Executive Director Brian Cahill. Quite the "Catholic" organization, Catholic Charities.

The fact that the Archdiocese is being singled out by the government of the city should not trouble San Francisco Catholics. Our city officially and annually welcomes events like the "Folsom Street Fair. " If they ever like us, then it's time to worry.

A city review board will hear the Archdiocesan appeal. This should be interesting.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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