The Catholic Church isn’t hoarding wealth

MYTHBUSTER Vatican isn't rich

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.



Filed under Catholic Church, Mythbusting, Pope Francis

3 responses to “The Catholic Church isn’t hoarding wealth

  1. Thanks for this, Chrissy. This is one of the tougher myths to expose; such is the history and perception. But those close by know it’s not so. The offices in the Vatican are not even air conditioned, except for the Papal apartment, but even that has been kept vacant while Franko chooses to live in a smaller apartment nearby. As a Knight of Columbus, I know of the tremendous needs, both in ministry and charity, that the Vatican has. We Knights help pay for many things that they can’t afford. You’d be surprised what that involves.


  2. Yes, thank you. I’ve unfriended ppl on facebook because they kept harping on about the “massive amounts of wealth in the hands of the Vatican”. They see the buildings, and the artwork, and the huge altar in St. Peter’s, and they say “Look at all that wealth! They should sell it all and give the money to the poor!”

    To which I reply “Funny, that’s exactly what Judas said . . .”

    And then they get offended. . . And I’m like “Hey, I thought you were from a ‘Bible-based’ Church, but you don’t know about the Woman with the Jar of Perfume? And what Judas said about her, and how Jesus replied?”

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