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Catholics lead rise in charity revenue

Australia's Churches generated almost $23 billion in 2004, with the Catholic Church turning over almost two-thirds of that amount, an investigation by BRW magazine has found, estimating the not-for-profit sector is worth $70 billion a year.

The Sydney Morning Herald/AAP reports that the BRW list of 200 charities adds up to an estimated $22.8 billion, not including clubs (at least another $8.8 billion) and health funds ($7.5 billion).

The Catholic Church is almost five times larger than any other church and dominates the top 20 charities, the magazine says. It estimated the Catholic Church's gross revenue at $15 billion in 2004. The next largest was the Uniting Church with $3.1 billion.

The Catholic Education offices in NSW, Victoria and Queensland made up three of the top four charities. Several Catholic hospitals were in the top 20. BRW estimates the Catholic Church owns property and other assets worth more than $100 billion.

Fr Brian Lucas (pictured), general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said churches had different aims and philosophies from businesses and should not be viewed the same way.

"Churches through their activities in health, social welfare, aged care and education are large providers of essential community services," he said. "I think outside government, the Catholic Church would be the largest of them, and we're not ashamed of being a large provider of services ...

"There is no profit because there are no shareholders in the church and no investors in the church, and whatever comes in goes out in the provision of those services."

The three largest Pentecostal churches - Hillsong Church, Paradise Community Church and Christian City Church - together brought in $83.3 million in 2004.

Catholics lead rise in charity revenue (Australian Associated Press/The Age 23/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference - General Secretariat
Australian Taxation Office: Non-Profit Organisations
National Catholic Education Commission
Year Book Australia - 1999 Special Article - Australia's nonprofit sector (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Catholic Mission has its most successful year (CathNews 22/3/05)
Church calls Charities Bill 'unworkable' (CathNews 9/10/03)

Charity sector to make a sweet $70b a year (The Courier Mail 23/3/05)

23 Mar 2005