this sort of thing thrown at them all the time:
"The Vatican is too wealthy! It should sell everything and give it to
the poor or send it to Africa or something!"
People who say such a thing have no clue what they're talking about. My
in "Net worth of"
the above with the word "Vatican"
as above, but replace "Vatican" with "Mark Zuckerberg"
as above, but replace "Zuckerbgerg" with "Bill Gates"
as above, but replace "Bill Gates" with "James Simon"
as above, but replace "James Simon" with "Len Blavatnik"
as above, but replace "Len Blavatnik" with "Warren
as above, but replace "Warren Buffet" with "George Soros"
as above, but replace "George Soros" with "Rothschild"
as above, but replace "Rothschild" with "Steven Spielberg"
Here's what I
found, just now, upon doing this:
So, OK, the
Vatican has more money than Spielberg. You win! But seriously, the
Vatican isn't even close to
being as wealthy as some people seem to think it is. And those same
people aren't going after Spielberg to send all his money to Africa.
But even if the
Church were as wealthy as some people like to think,
consider: throughout the 2,000 years of Her existence, the Church
has been given beautiful works of art, and has commissioned
many as well. We Catholics believe our church buildings should be
beautiful, inspiring, the best we can offer. A crucial point to
remember is that our churches are more than
mere places to gather and have "services"; they are quite literally
places where Christ Himself is Present on our altars and in the
tabernacles, so throughout History, Catholics have donated and labored
to build the most beautiful churches they can. Just think of all the
tradesmen working to build a cathedral that'd take 200 years to
of God, a Catholic labor of love
We carry on the tradition set forth in the Old Testament, filling our
churches with carvings, paintings, precious liturgical vessels (which
hold the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of
Christ Himself!). Read about what the Temples used by our spiritual
ancestors were like! They weren't drab, dreary, whitewashed rooms with
bare walls! Not even close! Read chapters 3 and 4 of II Paralipomenon
(II Chronicles in your Bibles) to learn how King Solomon built the
Temple. When you do, you'll read things such as:
And the porch in
the front..he overlaid it within with pure gold. And the greater
house he ceiled with deal boards, and overlaid them with plates of fine
gold throughout: and he graved in them palm trees, and like little
chains interlaced with one another. He paved also the floor of the
temple with most precious marble, of great beauty. And the gold of the
plates with which he overlaid the house, and the beams thereof, and the
posts, and the walls, and the doors was of the finest: and he graved
cherubims on the walls.
He made also the house of the holy of holies... and he overlaid it with
plates of gold...He made also nails of gold, and the weight of every
nail was fifty sicles: the upper chambers also he overlaid with gold.
He made also in the house of the holy of holies two cherubims of image
work: and he overlaid them with gold.
[Th]e wings of the two cherubims were spread forth...and they stood
upright on their feet, and their faces were turned toward the house
without. He made also a veil of violet, purple, scarlet, and silk: and
wrought in it cherubims.
And he made ten golden candlesticks, according to the form which they
were commanded to be made by: and he set them in the temple, five on
the right hand, and five on the left. Moreover also ten tables: and he
set them in the temple, five on the right side, and five on the left.
Also a hundred bowls of gold.
And the multitude of vessels was innumerable, so that the weight of the
brass was not known. And Solomon made all the vessels for the house of
God, and the golden altar, and the tables, upon which were the leaves
of proposition, The candlesticks also of most pure gold with their
lamps to give light before the oracle, according to the manner.
And certain flowers, and lamps, and golden tongs: all were made of the
finest gold. The vessels also for the perfumes, and the censers, and
the bowls, and the mortars, of pure gold. And he graved the doors of
the inner temple, that is, for the holy of holies: and the doors of the
temple without were of gold
Now, does that
sound more like a (traditional) Catholic Church -- or a Baptist,
Pentecostal, Evangelical, or Quaker building? Does this sound like Joel
Osteen's mega-church auditorium at all? Does Pastor Hagee's worship
space look anything like this?
The New Covenant
is the Old Covenant fulfiflled. The priestly authority
described in the Old Testament passed on to Catholic priests, not to
Pharisaic rabbis (who are the progenitors of modern Judaism, a
radically different religion than the religion of the Old Testament) or
to Protestant ministers who didn't exist until the 16th century and who
don't offer the Sacrifice prophesied in the first chapter of Malachi:
For from the
rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the
Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered
to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles,
saith the Lord of hosts.
the words of Christ Himself, spoken against those who thought that Mary
Magdalene erred when she anointed Christ instead of selling the
ointment she used and giving it to
the poor. Sound familiar? From Mark 14:3-10
And when he was
in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, and was at meat, there
came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of precious spikenard:
and breaking the alabaster box, she poured it out upon his head.
Now there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said:
Why was this waste of the ointment made? For this ointment might
have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and given to the
poor. And they murmured against her.
But Jesus said: Let her alone, why do you molest her? She hath wrought
a good work upon me. For the poor you have always with you: and
whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not
always. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to
anoint my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel
shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done,
shall be told for a memorial of her.
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to
betray him to them.
act of love and humility seems to have been the very thing that sent
Judas off in the wrong direction! How Judas-like are those
non-Catholics who accuse the Catholic Church of doing the very thing
St. Mary Magdalen did -- and become enraged over it! When slurs about
the Church's alleged wealth are hurled at Catholics, they're never done
with a gentle, wondering attitude, as in, for example, "I see that
you're very serious about your Catholic faith, but one thing I just
don't understand is how the Vatican can have so much material wealth
and doesn't use it for the poor. That's always bothered me. Can you
help me understand the thinking behind that?" Oh, no. It comes at us
like this, "The Vatican is a corrupt, nasty institution, leading people
astray. Its got a rancid, violent History, with stuff like the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades! They've got all this money and they
sit on it while people are dying! The Pope lives like the *^%*%$ king
of the world; he doesn't care about the poor!" It's very, very ugly.
First of all, the Catholic Church is the single greatest charitable
institution in the History of man.
We're the ones who invented
soup kitches. And hospitals. And orphanages. We have entire religious
orders devoted to serving the poor and sick. Forbes ranks the Catholic
Charities USA as being among the top fifteen largest charities in the
United States, with our having spent $4.5 billion dollars -- money
collected from Christ-loving Catholics -- caring for just the American
needy in 2014 alone.1 And that's just the United States. We
have missions, hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, soup kitchens,
etc., all over the planet. For example,
according to Rome Reports, here's what the Church
does just for Africa. It runs:
5,373 primary care centers
186 leprosy treatment centers
753 homes for the elderly and disabled
1,590 marriage counseling centers
2,947 social education centers
In addition to
caring for the needy and sick is the caring for our cultural heritage.
The Vatican preserves the great works of art that've been entrusted to
the Church, and makes them available to the entire world in its
museums. These beautiful works, freely given to or commissioned by the
Church, are meant to inspire us! Would the world be better off if these
invaluable treasures of the Western world were removed from Vatican
museums, auctioned off at Sotheby's, and turned into tchotchke sitting
in some Jewish
guy's Manhattan penthouse? Really?
Now, it must be understood that Vatican City is its own country, and
has expenses like every other country in the world does. It must pay
for its infrastructure, its police, its utilities, its missions,
payroll for its employees, etc., etc. Just the Vatican radio station
alone has over 300 employees! That's a lot that an entire country has
to pay for with a mere 10 billion dollars. That amount of money is not
far from what Israel gets every year from the American taxpayer just
for military funding.
Some people go
on about the various properties owned by the Church throughout the
world. Well! God forbid
Catholics should have parishes where they can attend Mass, schools to
educate their children, or places where nuns, sisters, monks, and
brothers can live so they can continue their work of feeding the poor,
caring for the homeless, tending to the sick, etc. Other faith
communities can have their synagogues, mosques, or buildings in which
to hold their services, so why can't we? Some Protestants are even fine
with those huge megachurches -- those things that look like sports
arenas and come packaged with snack bars, coffee shops, gyms,
basketball courts, ATMs, gift shops, bookstores, etc. The average
income of just one of those huge places was $6.5 million in 2007, half
of which went to salaries.2 These ginormous structures
can cost $20 million dollars to build -- not a problem, of course,
because they're Protestant. But when it comes to Catholics -- well, I
guess we're expected to attend Mass in rooms we rent from our local
libraries or something, and our priests should be living on bread and
water (as it is, the typical priest's yearly income is $40,000 per
year. 3 Trash collectors make $34,420, and the
average schoolbus driver's salary is $31,509. And they don't work 7
days a week or get sick calls in the middle of the night either.).
All the parishes and monasteries around the world aren't
even owned by "the Pope" or "the Vatican"; they're owned by the various
Bishops and the religious orders in question. So, please, stop talking
about how "the Vatican" or "the Pope"
is "too wealthy" and -- what? Should sell the Sistine Chapel so it can
be turned into a disco and the proceeds sent to Africa, where some African "Big Man" leader
will use it all for himself while his people starve? No thanks!
And finally, the Catholic Church is not the largest land-owner in the
world; Queen Elizabeth II is.
1 "The 50
Largest U.S. Charities," Forbes Magazine. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
Biggest Megachurches", Forbes Magazine. Retrieved October 5, 1016. URL:
Parish priests, by the way, don't make vows of poverty. Only the
religious (nuns, monks, brothers, sisters), including religious priests
(priests who offer Mass for their religious orders), do.