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Every time a pope makes a pronouncement exhorting the masses to practice charity, the anti-Catholics come out of the woodwork, lambasting the Church for her wealth and venality. I'm not sure how to respond.

It seems to me the Church's material riches are largely tied to the West's patrimony. Yes, she owns magnificent cathedrals. Yes, they often sit on expensive parcels of land and contain priceless works of art. Yes, a portion of this art represents booty captured in some distant campaign of conquest or another (e.g., the Fourth Crusade). But most of it was donated, wasn't it? Don't people have a right to donate to the charity of their choice?

The Vatican is said to own a large stock portfolio. But how else is it to meet its expenses? The Church supports schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, orphanages, hospices, and missions around the world. These are manned by religious, who take vows of poverty. The Church must nonetheless provide food and shelter for these religious. That costs money, doesn't it?
10 Reasons The Catholic Church Should NOT Sell Her “Riches” And Give Them To The Poor

1) The Catholic Church is not as “rich” as some might think. Most of her “riches” are tied up in assets that were given as gifts. More on this below.

2) What happens after all the money is gone? Then where does that get us? The poor are still poor and now the Church’s art, buildings, etc. are in the hands of those that might not appreciate them or steward them as well as the Church.

3) The “Church” isn’t just the hierarchy, it is all of us. The art, buildings, and even money is controlled by certain people, but belongs to all of us. The Pope and/or Bishops can’t just sell everything off because they think it is a good idea.

4) The People of God have provided the Church with the riches she has. Therefore the people have a right to be able to have the intent of their donations honored. If I gave the Vatican a priceless work of art to preserve and they sold it to the highest bidder, I would be royally miffed.

5) Has anyone asked the poor if they want cash for church assets? If I were poor and gave my widow’s mite to build a church and then you went and sold it without asking me I might just go apoplectic. Ask a poor and pious Catholic the next time you get the chance.

6) The Catholic Church does more to aid the poor than any other private organization already. This points out that the argument isn’t about the poor or what the “riches” of the Catholic Church, but about the heart of men. Remember that many religious brothers, sisters, and priests take a vow of poverty and renounce everything for God. But, not all are called to this.

7) The issue of poverty isn’t about an amount of money (there is plenty to go around), but about personal greed, corruption, injustice, governmental problems, economic systems, etc.

8) The greatest need is spiritual poverty – not material poverty. Thus, the Church should use the gifts she has been given to erase this poverty first.

9) Worship of God is the first justice issue. We owe God our worship before we owe any other human anything. Thus, if art, buildings, gold vessels, etc. can aid us to worship God, then we are fulfilling the requirements of justice.

10) The total Vatican budget is about $365 million. Most large universities have this budget several times over. The Church’s wealth wouldn’t do much more for the poor.

From here.
Nice answer, dc.
That's a great list. People get really hung up on the Capitalist/Communism dichotomy that money equals wealth and riches, and that that is thus the lack of it is the ultimate factor in defining the poor and poverty. In an economy-obsessed world, it's hard to actually get down to bottom of the truth about wealth and poverty, let's pray that the Church is always there to make these things clear. The idea of 'pricelessness' is interesting in this debate. The Chruch's fiscal worth is really an estimate, because a lot of that composed of priceless cultural heritage. People on the outside might see a relic having a monetary value, but for believers, it's impossible for us to see it that way. This is just another typical Protestant jab at Catholicism, and an age-old one at that.
Re: works of art. If I remember correctly, many of the works of art possessed by the Church were commissioned by the Church centuries ago. They wouldn't even exist without the Church sponsoring them all those years ago. And sell them to whom? A private collection? How is that better?
Well when a Protestant starts going on about the Church's wealth, point them to the Old Testament. God called a group of former slaves, now refugees, who were wandering in the desert, to go out and bring massive amounts of gold, silver, precious gems, linens and fine acacia wood so that He could have a place of dwelling.

Also point them to the words of our Lord when Judas complains about the use of expensive oils to clean Our Lord's feet.
The answer I gave to a similar question a few years ago:
(09-23-2012, 07:29 PM)jovan66102 Wrote: [ -> ]Yes, the Church is fabulously wealthy, though the art (which I seriously doubt is worth 'billions'), is only a drop in the bucket. Most of the Church's wealth is tied up in land and buildings. Any of this wealth will only fetch what the open market will pay. If the art were all to be put on the market tomorrow, the market would collapse, meaning that it would only realise pennies on the dollar.

The land and buildings are somewhat different. St Patrick's Cathedral in NYC would obviously fetch millions of dollars just for the prime real estate, but St Malachy's Church in Beattie, Kansas is basically worthless on the market unless a prot church wanted to buy it. And a great deal of the real property is hospitals, monasteries, schools, convents, etc. In order to realise that wealth, the Church essentially must stop being the Church and give up her mission. No Churches in which to worship, no hospitals to minister to the sick, no schools to form young Catholics, no places for religious vocations, etc.

I am reminded of a friend of mine years go, a farmer. He lived, as many farmers do, from crop to crop, borrowing as needed to get by and paying the loan off at harvest. On paper, he was a millionaire since his land was right on the edge of town and prime development land. However, the only way to realise that 'wealth' was to quit farming the land which his grandfather had homesteaded and give up his vocation. Same deal with the Church.

The 'rich whore' accusation is a prot/atheist canard based in ignorance and stupidity.


It's not just Protestants or atheists. It's Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, lapsed Catholics, New Agers, and agnostics. They all take jabs at the Church for her ill-gotten gain.

Why is it ill-gotten? Because it was acquired via booty or brainwashing! God knows no Protestant, atheist, Jew, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, lapsed Catholic, New Ager, or agnostic ever acquired any material wealth in such an unseemly manner!

Thanks to all for the insightful responses. Back to the war.
(06-21-2015, 05:57 PM)anamchara Wrote: [ -> ]It's not just Protestants or atheists. It's Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, lapsed Catholics, New Agers, and agnostics. They all take jabs at the Church for her ill-gotten gain.

Why is it ill-gotten? Because it was acquired via booty or brainwashing! God knows no Protestant, atheist, Jew, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, lapsed Catholic, New Ager, or agnostic ever acquired any material wealth in such an unseemly manner!

Thanks to all for the insightful responses. Back to the war.

So you are saying that the enemies of the Church are attacking Her...interesting.

Hmmm...