January 12, 2016
RE: Parish Religious Stores
The matter of parishes operating stores for religious books and devotional articles was discussed during the regular clergy meeting last January 8. It has been noted too that there are some instances when the articles on sale are no longer related to the promotion of religious devotion and catechesis.
This practice has left a mistaken impression among the Catholic faithful that Sep 9, 2011 – the Church is engaging in business and commerce beyond its spiritual mission.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue has sent some alarming signals about imposing taxes on such religious stores. Unless properly guided by our legal counsel, the maintenance of religious stores might become an entry point for the BIR to even examine the other collections and fund sources of the Catholic Church. The Church stands at risk as secularism gains ground. We choose the path of pastoral prudence.
In consideration of the foregoing, it was decided during the said clergy meeting that in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan, we will not open new religious stores and close the ones that are in existence, unless such stores have submitted their records to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and have gained business licenses from the government as required by law.
This policy on religious stores will also enhance our desire to rid the parish operations of any semblance of business and commerce. It is a hard climb but we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan