September 15, 2015

Way to lay it out there, Pope Frank!

ROME — On the eve of a trip to the United States, Pope Francis has called himself a “son of immigrants” and confirmed the point by issuing a blunt warning to any religious orders in Europe that spurn his recent call to open their doors to refugees because they want to make money off their properties instead.

Go ahead, the pope said, but be ready to pay taxes just like everybody else.

“Some religious orders say ‘No, now that the convent is empty we are going to make a hotel and we can have guests, and support ourselves that way, or make money,’” the pontiff said.

“Well, if that is what you want to do, then pay taxes! A religious school is tax-exempt because it is religious, but if it is functioning as a hotel, then it should pay taxes just like its neighbor. Otherwise it is not fair business.”

Renting space to help with operating expenses is a common practice among religious orders in Europe. For example, in Rome, a pensione operated by an order of nuns just outside St. Peter’s Square offers a room, breakfast, and Mass at 7 a.m. each day for $90 a night. They also rent their rooftop to CBS during major papal events.

The pope also announced that the two refugee families he plans to take in at the Vatican have been identified, and that they will remain “as long as the Lord wants.”

His comments came in an interview with veteran Catholic journalist Aura Miguel of Portugal’s Radio Renascença.

In the interview, Francis once again blasted what he called “a bad and unjust socioeconomic system” in the early 21st century that he faults for Europe’s current refugee crisis.

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