Friday, July 28, 2017

The Church of Down at Heel.

I had a 'discussion' the other day with a chap who was berating the Catholic Church. OK, a discussion is a bit of a misnomer. He was ranting and calumnising as some do. Just why he held such hatred for Catholics we did not get around to exploring.  Whenever I have tried to approach that question with others of his ilk, the result is never illuminating.  They don't know themselves. I pin the blame on Henry the Eigth's spin doctors, m'self, for want of a better explanation. 

                       Lies have long legs.
But one fairly common 'accusation' came up, as expected, and I was somewhat without the wherewithall to answer adequately.  ( I was busy filling glasses at the time).

All the Wealth of the Church.

If only we nasty Catholics would sell it all, all the Vatican's treasures, we could solve child poverty, and all poverty overnight, it seems, according to him. I pointed him to the poor box on the bar but he failed to get even a coin from his pocket let alone into the slot. I can't see him beating the wall in Ninja Warrior. I told him that.

I started to ask him just who he proposed would buy all the treasures of the Vatican? Bill Gates? Could he perhaps take the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and ship it to his own palace in the USA for a couple of hundred million bucks. That would relieve a bit of poverty in Uganda.  Melinda and he could gaze at it from time to time. Or maybe Facebook could buy 'rights' to it, in situ, and put some discreet logos in the squares. That might get a fair few bucks on an annual basis. And all the statues and paintings could be sold to private buyers to hang and stand in their own places, away from the millions of people who look at them in wonder and awe every year. Think of the auction sales. 

But he sneered as he walked off.

Fortunately Marcus l'Estrange was at hand and he'd brought a friend in for a quick whet of the whistle. And the friend, Sebastian Campos had just the arsenal of arguements at hand. I wrote them down for next time. 
If the Vatican Has so Much Money, Why Doesn’t It…?

7 Things To Know About the Finances of the Church
Like every good Catholic, surely you have had to explain the Pope, the Virginity of Mary, priestly celibacy, and refute the nonsense that appears in tabloids and on TV – which includes everything from claiming Jesus had children to conspiracy theories about the worldly power of the Church. 
Within those piles of rubbish, there is always someone who asserts authoritatively, “The Vatican is the richest institution in existence, if it would sell everything it has, it could eliminate poverty in the world.”

Does the Vatican have more economic power than global giants like Walmart, Apple, and Coke? Fortune magazine, which specializes in economics, has published an article in which it refutes the notion of the “Vatican’s great wealth”. 
In fact, it verified that the .....
Vatican would not even be among the 500 most wealthy on its famous “Fortune 500”.

For your spiritual peace of mind, and so that you can share the information with others, here are some facts which will serve you well if you need to explain the finances of the Vatican and the Church.
Thank you Sir. I shall post them up here. 
1. The most valuable assets of the Vatican are invaluable and are not for sale. 

The Vatican’s possessions are treasures of humanity. They are as priceless as the first love letter you received from your spouse. Immensely valuable to us (and perhaps to some eccentric collector), but they cannot be sold. 
In its museums, the Vatican has some of the greatest artistic treasures of the world, accumulated throughout 2000 years of Christian history, not to mention the pre-Christian artifacts also found in its museums. Though they are treasures, they cannot be sold.
In the year 2015, Pope Francis was asked, “Do you ever feel any pressure to sell the treasures of the Church?”. His response was clear, “This is an easy question. 
They are not the treasures of the Church; they are the treasures of humanity.”

As an example: when John Paul II made his first visit to Brazil, he broke protocol after a ceremony, went to a favela, and visited a family. Moved by the encounter, he left them his Papal ring. Do you think that family sold it for its weight in gold to buy food and clothing? No. It’s a treasure, which they still keep it in the chapel of the favela. The poor are poor, but not stupid.
2. The new administration of Francis
We are not saying that other Popes have been poor administrators, but it is true that there were irregularities in some pontificates which, far from generating wealth, put the Vatican in debt. For this reason, Pope Francis instituted a new policy of the administration to alleviate some of this operational deficit.
Indeed, the Pope appointed a fairly hard-nosed and reliable Cardinal from Oz to do the job. Cardinal George Pell. Perhaps there is a reason here for why there is so much animosity toward him in our needia.  He is exposing a lot of corrupt financial goings-on. He is currently 'On Trial' in Oz for unrelated matters. 
The austere lifestyle of Pope Francis is not just rhetoric; it has permeated the pocketbook of the Vatican and the way the finances are managed from month to month. For him, financial management is a pillar of his mission to help the poor and disadvantaged. Pope Francis has said that he wants a more agile Vatican administration, more efficient and “self-sustaining”. 
This would free up more money for its charitable works.

“The Holy Father’s message was crystal clear, ‘Let us make money to go to the poor.”, remembers Jose Zahra, member of COSEA, a pontifical commission in charge of the economical reorganization of the Vatican.
Pope Francis is considered by Fortune magazine to be an “elite manager”. In 2013, under his leadership, the Vatican had a small surplus of 11.5 million dollars, demonstrating that even though some may believe that the Vatican is a global economic power, if it were a company it would not even make the Fortune 500.
Despite the prudence of this administration, in 2013 the Holy See recorded an income of $315 million, with $348 million in expense, for a deficit of $33 million. So the surplus might cover some potholes, but nobody is swimming in gold.
3. The Vatican employees
The Pope does not believe in firing current employees, but neither does he believe in waste and inefficiency.
He believes that the Vatican would function better with fewer employees (assuming that they do their work well and do not retire early, which would result in long-term retirement costs).

Almost two-thirds of the Vatican’s income goes to the salaries of its 2886 employees. 
Would the Queen of England sell off the Household Guard, Bearskins and all? Should the Beefeaters at the Tower of London be retired to save a few bucks to be handed out to the homeless on London's streets?
The average employee, (including priests and religious), earns less than market salary, nearly 25% less than the wages of Italian workers in the private sector. However, despite having lower salaries, they aren’t required to pay income tax and they do have access to benefits such as health and retirement.

4. Diocesan Independence.
Although the Vatican has subsidiaries all over the world, each of the approximately 2800 dioceses is a separate corporation, with its budget and assets, and they are administratively independent.
This is documented by financial statements regularly published in each diocese. The Church is economically decentralized; in fact, economically, the Vatican is basically on its own.

It is important to know that although the dioceses of the world send money to the Vatican each year, the vast majority of this money is destined to missionary activity or the charitable works supported by the Pope. However, this sum is less than 4.5% of the total income.
The same applies to real estate. Even though the Church is present all over the world, the buildings and land do not belong to the Vatican. The dioceses and the 296 religious orders throughout the world are the proprietors of this real estate and administrate them on their own account.

The Vatican also has properties, in fact, nearly 2000. Most are apartment buildings in Italy rented to people who work for the Church at a price that is significantly less than market value. That is to say, they aren’t making any money.
5. Some things are sold and the money is given to charity.
The Pope receives mountains of gifts, from handcrafts to brand new vehicles, all given with tremendous affection. However, Pope Francis has preferred to use these gifts to finance his charitable works. 
An example of this was in 2014 when the American business “Harley-Davidson” gave him a motorcycle. Pope Francis never used it. He signed the fuel tank and donated it to Caritas, a Catholic association in Rome. It was auctioned off for $327,000, and the money was used to renovate a homeless shelter and soup kitchen.

Having said this, it is clear that the Church – that is, the Cardinals in the Vatican but also you and I – must always seek to improve. We can always do more and each one of us must do our part. Whether you are a Cardinal, a sister, a parish priest, a businessman/businesswoman or a teenager, we are all invited to take a look around and discern what is truly essential and what is not. What prevails in our lives? Love of goods or love of our brothers and sisters? Why not put all that stuff gathering dust in the storage room to good use? Why not turn our goods into gifts for others?
6. Other costs and other income…
There are many administrative costs which do not generate any income, for example:
The Vatican Radio, which has 330 employees and spends $37 million annually, but makes less that $1 million dollars in advertising.
The Apostolic Nunciatures, which function as embassies in 113 countries, require more than $30 million dollars annually.
Not to mention that the Vatican is a city and needs to generate income. The majority of this comes from tourists and pilgrims who visit the museums. This generates approximately $130 million annually. Another considerable portion of income comes from donations which approach $85 million per year.

To finance its operations, the Vatican does like every responsible country and makes foreign investments. It possesses almost $920 million in actions, bonds, and gold. Its gold reserves, in the Federal Reserve of the U.S., amount to $50 million. The Vatican typically earns between $15 to $25 million from its investments. Although it invests money, it makes relatively little from which to pay its debts.
A report on the finances of the Holy See can be seen here.
7. But, does the Church do anything to help the poor?
Perhaps the most absurd argument is when people say, “The Vatican is flooded with wealth. If it would sell its assets that money could be given to the poor.” 
This statement insinuates that the Vatican does not help the poor and that the Pope surely gets up every morning to swim in a pool of gold coins surrounded by extraordinary luxury without ever concerning himself with the poor. This could not be further from the truth.

In all of history, The Church is the institution which has done more than any other throughout the world to help the poor and the invalid, the sick and the orphaned. 
There is no other single institution which sustains as many hospitals, homeless shelters, care centers for the elderly, orphanages, schools, universities, etc.

Let’s end on good note. “Fortune” magazine, when speaking about the administration of Pope Francis, points out that economic matters are truly important to Pope Francis. Although some may consider the Vatican to be among the wealthiest organizations in the world, it is not. However, with the money it does have, the Vatican significantly helps the world’s poor, sick, and oppressed.

I think Sebastian earned all the Ale I took to his table, don't you?



  1. I am a Catholic believer and can tell you that much of the gold was melted down and used to help the poor I have belonged to the St Vincent De Paul society and in a wealthy place like Australia I wonder why we take people in who are not of a Christian faith When we cannot look after our own people?

    1. I suppose the answer to the last part is that we are a nation of immigrants. My issue is not with taking folk in and being charitable, but which people we take in. Those that do not 'believe' have a chance of believing in Christ in time. Those that believe already in false gods and the destruction of Christians and pretty well anyone else who is not a believer in allah, should not be allowed in.

      The Catholic in the pew is a charitable person. Places like St. Vinnies rely on such people. I have never heard of a mohammedan moslem donating to St Vinnies. I would like to hear if it happens.

  2. I'm so sorry you have to contend with such ignorance and prejudice. If it weren't for the Catholic church, we would have no other denominations, they set the bar :)

    And if it weren't for the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, there would be no "charity" in this town.

    And just now reading Terry's comment about St. Vincent de Paul - we wouldn't have much charity in this entire state if it weren't for SVDP, they set the state bar for that too :)

    I promise you, I just now this moment read Terry's comment and yours while typing my first sentence, so this next part is almost a PS/afterthought as I had no intention of even lightly touching on politics at all, I meant to reach out to you in and apologize for the ignorance of my brothers and sisters as a non-Catholic.

    However, if I may say now, IMO, we Christians help people of other faiths because of Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ was very clear about that.. The priest and the rabbi passed the man by, but the Samaritan helped him and Christ encouraged us to be like the Samaritan nonbeliever in compassion.

    Also, Christ's parable of the merciless servant comes into play here. After having shown us such grace and mercy, our master will one day show us as little or much mercy as we've shown other servants.

    Christ showed compassion and healed many who were not Jewish or Christian - Roman centurions, Canaanites, Samaritans - that was the point?

    Just my opinion though. Doesn't mean we shouldn't be cautious or enable nonsense, but to blanket-generalize based on people being of a different faith at all is a bit extreme, IMO. And I know a few Christians baddies too, particular of the evangelical sort. Nowhere in scripture does Christ (or anyone else) say to show favoritism with your compassion based on Christianity.

    I personally don't believe much of this current political conflict is really about religion anyway, I think it's really about oil, and both ISIS AND us use faith propaganda to 'recruit' (manipulate) people into 'military' action on both sides - but that's a whole other subject and I tend to write too much as it is!

    In fact, in summary, I think any sort of blanket-judgment prejudice is simple ignorance/lack of experience with people of that faith, their doctrine, or actual scripture, whether that prejudice be against Catholics or Muslims.

    1. Thank you Chrystal. It is all too easy to overlook the good when confronting the bad, and there are many bad christians around. But the Good shines through. And whether we cheer for one religion or another it is the quality of the individual that counts. His and her Love for God and the fellow man and woman in the street. And his and her ability to see through the hatreds of others who insist on seeing only the bad, or the downsides.

      It is when we confront the bad folk, those who would not simply walk on by the poor sod who was robbed on the road, but actually put the boot in, that we need to be discriminating. Offering kindness even to them is a 'Good' but wisdom tells us to keep one hand on the hilt of our sword.

      We may well value the life of others but we can only do that while alive ourselves.

      But then we come to Charity. As you say of Lexington, there are those who give and give, of material help and of themselves. And there are those who dismiss that givingness and demand the shirt off the giver's back. That is the way of the chap who demanded that the Vatican deliver up the treasures to feed the poor. Feeding the poor comes from sowing crops, not from handouts. The Catholic Church does both and it will never be enough for its critics.

      The wealth of the Catholic Church is not just in simple parish churches or in Cathedrals in prime city locations - built when the city was just a few rather poor dwellings - but the Hositals and Orphanages, the old-folks homes and hospices. In Britain it is unfortunate that such Catholic wealth was 'transferred' at the point of a sword into State hands. The critics would prefer to see that done worldwide.

    2. After such an eloquent reply, I haven't much IN reply lol - so I'll just say that had it not been for pooling the ideas of some well-educated, compassionate and sane Catholic, Anglican and even Jewish friends, I would've lost my faith altogether :)

      Point well taken that the church needs to obtain money to give it, which is something that apparently eludes the Catholic naysayer you mention.

      However, I'm not sure the compassion of the church is always shown with the hope for a return on investment, either financially or conversion of souls. At least I hope not. Perhaps I'm just naive or I'd just like to believe it isn't.

      I just know that when I personally am shown compassion - and I'm sure it's not done with an agenda or to procure obligation - I personally want to pay back in gratitude to them forever, as well as pay it forward to others - and that includes "paying forward" Christ's compassion for me. (But, ya know, we forget too sometimes and it's harder than ever to discern in this day and age :) )

      And I know not everyone is that way - some take without thought to giving, some take but don't trust the giver perhaps in survival mode, some give and leave nothing left for themselves and then give and some have a good balance. We learn as we go I guess, following Christ's example if/when can (or remember) :)

      Hugs to you today, hope things are going well for you in Oz, despite all the nonsense. We have our own here, as I'm sure you're aware of too :)

      Again, I personally believe it depends on the individual and a little caution never hurt anyone :)

      As for public versus private funding, I tend to believe that greedy individuals will always be drawn to large organizations, private or state, but that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater in either case - we need at least some regulation and even welfare by the state (particularly in terms of child welfare) but I know we don't agree much on that one so I'll stop there. :)


    3. Dominus vobiscum, Chrsystal, et cum spiritu tuo. Finding the right path -when everyone is intent on asserting that all paths lead to the same place - is hard enough and staying on it even harder.

    4. Amen :)

      IMO, condemning Catholicism as a Christian is like slapping your own grandparents in the face.

      You can disagree with them, criticize them, even refuse to support/enable certain actions - but we must still respect the fact that without our grandparents paving the way, there would be no us today :)

    5. PS - Just on more thing for a smile and then I'll hush. I read the gist of this post to my husband, who is Catholic, along with the comment I just left about Protestant Christians dissing Catholics being like slapping our grandparents.

      He said: "Oh everyone who's not Catholic and has a problem with Catholics can go straight to hell." (Yes, he's joking).

      Thus, I said, "All right, Grandpa Catholic, that's enough outta you - sit quietly and eat your pudding nicely with others, please, or they'll be no ashtray-making in arts and crafts time for you later." (Yes, I was joking too.)

      I said no 'slapping' our Catholic 'grandparents' - not that we couldn't remind them to mind their manners and be nice to others, as they once did for us ;)

    6. Yes, I like that analogy. Drinks on the House for you all evening, m'dear.

  3. They are not the treasures of the Church; they are the treasures of humanity.”

    Tell that to Paul Marcinkus, Banca Ambrosiano and P2.

    1. I just did. All they have to do is read, as you do.

      What point are you trying to make that has not already been made a hundred times here?

    2. " If it weren't for the Catholic church, we would have no other denominations, they set the bar :) "


    3. When visiting the old Cathedrals (all originally Catholic) and other church buildings we are reminded that the they were built for the love (and glory) of God.

      That action and the product of the action is the treasure to inspire human hearts to come to know God through Jesus. The material assets have no monetary value.

      I received something through post this morning, something that was more than I expected. In response to an email (from a Christian publication I subscribe to) I took up the offer of a free cookbook with recipes. I was expecting a small leaflet about missionary work of an organisation with some recipes from the places the organisation served, giving relief, aid, the means to help themselves and sharing the Christian message.

      A hardback book arrived. The book has recipes from the regions served, stories of people who live there and stories of the missionaries that serve there. The book was accompanied by additional material about the places that are currently supported and the problems encountered. All these remote areas are accessed by plane!

      So getting back to one of your points! Missionary work (spreading the message) is one of the most important things a Christian should do.

      Sorry for rambling on a bit...

    4. Yes, I should've known my badly-worded sentence would be microscoped, misinterpreted and misused to the advantage of those so inclined - why break tradition? :)

      I can only reply that I personally don't consider the Church of Self or Satan an actual denomination, but whatever floats imaginary boats :)

    5. My Great Supplier will be smiling at all the work those fine missionaries do, and enjoying the aromas that go up to His Celestial Tavern, especially as you try out all the exotic recipes. He will smile upon you too, m'dear. Meanwhile, drinks are on this humble tavern.

    6. A note for Chrystal: Thank you for the note in the post box. Misinterpretations are par for the course in human communication. Rest assured there is always a fine drink of choice here for you. I value your custom. :)

      PS, my regards to your Catholic husband and tell him that we do our own condemning of ourselves to Hell. Christ would prefer we didn't even look down into it. The Catholic Church condemns no -one, but instead offers a hand that helps. Other christian churches, in the main, try as well.

    7. Hi A - Yes, he truly was joking for effect, but still a bit of coarse reply/figure of speech, thus my (teasing) "hush and eat pudding" ;) Thank you for the drinks, hugs to you. I'm off to do more packing and moving :)

    8. Cherie - my original lost comment was similar in subject matter to yours and ended with thanking the Catholic church for bringing the world the "good news." :)

      Amen, Cherie - and you never ramble. Have you seen MY comments? THAT's a ramble. ;)


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..