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The Business of the Catholic Church

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In this great and diverse country, one is always proud to see their own city on the front page of the national newspapers, so you can imagine my pride yesterday when Los Angeles turned out to be the place where the Catholic Church has had to pay the largest fine ever for diddling kids, $660 million. (Full disclosure: I was raised Catholic and I was sometimes alone with priests, although none ever tried anything. Which is a little insulting.)

Cardinal Mahoney announced that to help pay for the deal, the church would sell a building it owns on Wilshire and about 50 other properties they weren't using, which reminded me, oh yeah, the Catholic Church owns more property out here than Bob Hope did -- and why? Oh, yeah, because it's a business -- and not just a business, really, the greatest business in the world, in that, like all religions, it's selling an invisible product. It doesn't really get easier than that, unless you count Edgar Bergen, a ventriloquist on the RADIO.

The total payouts for abuse cases in dioceses all over America is now over $2 billion, and I imagine much of it came from people who went to Church and bought the invisible product by dropping their hard earned money into the basket (Full disclosure: when I was a child, that was my favorite part of the mass, and my father often let me put a quarter in). I wonder what those people think when they see that their money got spent on buying the privilege of touching and fucking kids. I was reading a week or so ago about Aga Khan, a very rich man who leads some tiny sect of Islam, and it's a good one to lead, since lots of the followers just send the dude money for being him.

It's the Ultimate Hustle.

Happy belated birthday to our dear editor -- thanks for letting me vent on that, it was on my mind and I'm doing Leno tonight and did not want it to come out there! Also let me plug my stand-up special this Saturday night on HBO -- I've been on the road, and it's ready and then some!

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