August 24, 2001

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - One of Australia's most senior Catholic bishops alluded Friday to the idea of a special tax on divorced people with children and tax breaks for couples who stay married.

Sydney Catholic Archbishop George Pell said the current legal system made it too easy for couples to divorce. He called for changes to make it harder for couples to split up.

Pell said he wanted to stress the advantages of families staying together and bringing up their children.

"One suggestion that has been made is that a divorce tax should be paid by couples who have children and separate to help defray the costs divorce forces society to pay. Whatever of this, I am strongly in favour of measures to make marriage and family financially attractive."

Read excerpts of the archbishop's talk.
``What I am trying to do is focus attention on the damage, personal and financial, that unfortunately often follows from divorce,'' he said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

``I have canvassed ... a list of possible penalties for those who divorce, especially if it can be established where there is fault, and benefits ... for those who stick together and bring up families,'' he said.

Divorced people could pay a tax to cover the financial and social costs which often follow the break up of families, Pell said.

On the other hand, for every year a couple stayed together with children under 18, there might be some sort of tax benefit, he said.

``The whole intention is to focus attention on the enormous benefits the family brings and to resist financial and legal penalties and disadvantages increasingly being forced on the family,'' he said.

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