.- The Bolivian media is reporting that after the vote on the countryâs new Constitution on January 25, the government of Evo Morales will consider a plan to tax the Church for the Masses that are offered at the request of the faithful.
Jorge Silva, a spokesman for Socialist lawmakers, said, âThe money-making part of the faith must be separated from the social work that the Church carries out.â âWe donât know what the social work is that the Church carries out because everything costs money. Priests donât do anything for free,â he added.
Silva went on to say that in the current Constitution, the Church enjoys privileges and that with the new one, âThe Catholic Church will cease to be the official religion of the State and, as a consequence, will lose privileges, and as a provider of services, it will have to pay taxes for example.â
The communications director of the Bishopsâ Conference of Bolivia, Jose Rivera, responded by saying the Church does not enjoy special privileges and that two years ago the bishops laid out their position about article three of the Constitution which supposedly establishes them.
He noted that the bishops âcalled for a revision of that article precisely to avoid these kinds of misunderstandings.â He also added that the Church carries out social work in areas unreachable by the State.
âThe Church in Bolivia pays taxes,â Silva said. âSometimes itâs easy to think that itâs enough for a specific work to bear the name Catholic or belong to the Catholic Church for it to mean it does not pay taxes, but this is not the case. Schools, universities, the works of the Church pay taxes. Consequently, objective and truthful information needs to be shared in order to prevent unnecessary controversies as much as possible,â he said.