It is not true that the Vatican is awash in cash and thus hypocritical for criticizing materialism, unbridled capitalism, and excessive wealth.
Note: When Catholic teaching refers to capitalism, it is NOT referring to the heavily regulated capitalism we have here in the United States. Pope John Paul II defined “unbridled capitalism” as “a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality.” Centesimus Annus (full text linked below).
You could put a dollar value on my small, country parish’s church home, but what would that prove? We built it ourselves, raised the money to pay off the mortgages, continue to contribute with money, time and labor to maintain it, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, we use it every day. It is just one of more than 17,000 in the U.S. alone. So yeah … if you added up all the dollar values for these properties, it would make a great big number with lots of zeroes. But so what? On paper, my house is worth a lot too … BUT I LIVE IN IT.
The Vatican City State is “rich” if you put dollar values on the priceless art. But you can’t sell the buildings, any more than you could sell the White House or the Coliseum. And they do require upkeep. Some years ago, the Church paid for a multi-million dollar restoration of the Michaelangelo masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican itself occasionally has a lean year when its overall budget runs in the red, but most of the cost of upkeep for the buildings and art treasures is covered by entrance fees paid by the tourists who come to enjoy the history and beauty every year.
Catholicism teaches us to use what we have to sustain our families and seek the good of society with what is left. The institutional Catholic Church “family” runs more charities and hospitals than any other entity on the planet and often contributes to nations that have suffered disasters. While there have been isolated cases of financial abuse, they are not common and would appear quite paltry next to the shenanigans of the Clinton Foundation. Also, the current pope lives in what amounts to a dorm room and recently raffled off a dozen or so items he’d been given, including a car. The proceeds were given to charity.