Europe’s deepening debt crisisThousands of public officials who have seen the financial crisis hit their budgets are chipping away at the various tax breaks and privileges the church has enjoyed for centuries. But the church is facing its own money troubles.

Cash-strapped officials in Europe are looking for a way to ease their financial burden by upending centuries of tradition and seeking to tap one of the last untouched sources of wealth: the Catholic Church.

Thousands of public officials who have seen the financial crisis hit their budgets are chipping away at the various tax breaks and privileges the church has enjoyed for centuries….

Similar efforts that target church coffers or powers are underway in neighboring countries. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti has called for a tax on church properties or on those portions of properties that have a commercial purpose. In Ireland, the minister of education is fighting to end church control of many of the country’s primary schools, and the government has slashed in half the grants it gives poor families for first Communions. More than half the city councils in Britain have eliminated state subsidies for transportation to faith-based schools, leading to a precipitous drop in enrollment.
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