Why doesn’t the Catholic Church sell off her riches and give the money to the poor?
- Selling off the Church’s wealth would harm more than help the poor by decreasing the Church’s ability to serve them. Most of the Church’s assets are tied up in real property – the buildings used for worship, education, health care, etc. and the land those buildings sit on. The Catholic Church already does more to help people than any other organization on the planet. How would it help the hungry to have a soup kitchen sold to a developer who would tear it down and build a parking garage?
- Many of the portable treasures are specific to Catholic worship and are used regularly for the benefit of all. The rest is mostly art that has been donated or willed to the Church with the intention that it be protected by her and made available to all. It would be a violation of that trust for the Church to sell off these pieces to the highest bidders.
- Selling off stuff would also impoverish the poor in a way few seem to consider. Poor people may live thread-bare lives, but even the most destitute can worship and celebrate life milestones in majestic spaces, surrounded by beautiful art and music the likes of which only the very wealthy can afford for themselves.
The value of America’s national treasures, monuments, parks and wildlife preserves far exceeds any imagined wealth the Roman Catholic Church allegedly hoards. Should we sell the Washington Monument or Independence Hall to the highest bidder? How about Yellowstone National Park or all those antiques cluttering up the White House?
The Vatican has an annual operating budget of under $300 Million, while Harvard University, arguably the Vatican of elite secular opinion, has a budget of $3.7 Billion, meaning it’s ten times greater.
The Vatican’s “patrimony,” what other institutions would call an endowment, is around $1 Billion. In this case, Harvard’s ahead by a robust factor of thirty, with an endowment of $30.7 Billion.