Jim Soorley
Jim Soorley

Soorley ‘out of touch’ in call to tax churches

FORMER Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley has been accused of being "out of touch" in calling for all churches in Australia to pay rates and taxes.

The claim has come from Stella Maris parish priest Fr Joe Duffy who said Mr Soorley - a former priest himself - should know that churches were already paying rates and taxes.

"There are some discounts, but they don't amount to much any longer," Fr Duffy said.

"The (Roman Catholic) church would like to regard itself in making this contribution and recognised as being part of the community and not excluded from it."

Mr Soorley yesterday accused some churches of profiteering and abusing their rate-exempt status by banking large tracts of land.

"Why should they be exempt (from rates and taxes)?" he asked. "Rates are collected to pay for vital infrastructure in our cities.

"It's a mistake to think the churches are trying to avoid their responsibilities. - Father Joe Duffy.

"The churches and their followers use public infrastructure and they should pay their share."

The Unitywater chairman also suggested the money churches should pay in rates and taxes go to the victims of child abuse by the clergy.

Fr Duffy said Mr Soorley needed to address the issue that people committing those crimes were not making any financial contribution themselves.

"If it comes down to the wire, the average churchgoer doesn't want to see people who are seriously damaged not being compensated reasonably," he said.

"It's a mistake to think the churches are trying to avoid their responsibilities.

"It might not have been a statement made over five years ago, but it's a matter of awareness if people need to be able to understand and study these types of issues."

Suncoast Church pastor Chas Gullo said his church also paid taxes and rates and he personally paid taxes on his wage, just like everybody else.

He said more needed to be done to help the victims of child abuse than just raising money.

"I don't know if finance is the only answer, we need to show compassion and give encouragement and support," Pastor Gullo said.

"My heart goes out to the victims, we are doing this already by standing by the people who have been hurt and abused."



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