DAGUPAN CITY — The Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese has ordered the closure of religious stores operating in parishes within its jurisdiction.

The directive was contained in Circular 2016-6 dated January 12,2016, addressed to all priests of the archdiocese and signed by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas.

The Circular explained that the issue wherein parishes operate stores to sell religious books and devotional articles was discussed during the clergy meeting last January 8.

In his Circular, Villegas noted that there are instances wherein the articles being sold by these stores are no longer related to the promotion of religious devotion and catechism.

The Archbishop said this situation has left a mistaken impression among the Catholic faithful that the Church is engaging in business and commerce beyond its spiritual mission.

He also mentioned that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has hinted of imposing taxes on such religious stores, which may also lead to BIR looking into the Church’s other collections and sources of funds.

Thus, it was decided that “we (Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan) will not open new religious stores and close the ones that are in existence.”

This is unless such stores have submitted their records to the BIR and have gained business licences from the government as required by law, he pointed out.

Archbishop Villegas stressed that the policy on religious stores “will also enhance our desire to rid the parish operations of the semblance of business and commerce.”

“It (closure of religious stores) is a hard climb but we must be wise as serpents and innocents as doves,” he concluded. PNA /