Is the Vatican or the Catholic Church Super-rich? A Quick Defense

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Is the Catholic Church or the Vatican wealthy enough to end the world’s poverty? Let’s check out first some facts about the Church’s or the Vatican’s wealth with these common misconceptions.

First Misconception: The Vatican Is the Catholic Church, and vice versa

I was guilty of this before and I thought Vatican is the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church is the Vatican. But, no! The Vatican is not the Catholic Church and it does not own the Catholic Church. The Church or “ekklesia” in Greek means those who are called forth (YouCAT 121). Together we are the Church. It only happens that we, Catholics, our Church is headquartered in Vatican.

Second Misconception: The Catholic Church Is Super-rich

The truth is that there are many local churches that have enough funds but there are a lot more that can barely pay their monthly electricity bills. A diocese cannot have more than enough in a long term because richer dioceses are encouraged to assist the poorer ones (Cann. 1274).

The Catholic Church, as a whole, does not have one pool of wealth. So, saying that the Catholic Church is rich is simply false. In-country churches have their own income through collections, investments, donations, etc. The money it has is for the poor and for evangelization and nothing else. This is the reason why we do not see any clergy buying a Ferrari with the Church’s money. Surely there have been cases where a priest, bishop, or a cardinal used the Church’s money for personal use, but this kind of isolated cases of greed could happen in any organizations and not only inside the Church. The Code of the Canon Law 1273-1289 strictly stipulates the administration of goods the Church should follow.

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Third Misconception: The Vatican Gets a Part of the Collection Money from Each Catholic

This is simply false. When we give a money offering on Sunday masses, most of it stays for the parish, a percentage of it goes to the diocese or archdiocese, it never reaches the Vatican.

Fourth Misconception: The Vatican Is Super-rich

The Vatican City is a country, the smallest country in the world. And like all countries do, it has to have resources of its own to be able to support itself and its causes. But the Vatican is not super-rich. Although no concrete sources, it may have some wealth amounting $15,000,000,000 (15B). But this is only 0.0142% when compared to that of the United States of America. Even if the Vatican had 1 trillion dollars, it would still be less than 1% of the USA’s wealth. Putting it in table becomes clearer. 15 billion is extremely small when compared to these giants.

Individuals/Org/CountryLocationWealth
United States of AmericaUSA$105,990,000,000,000
Apple Inc.USA$1,300,000,000,000
PhilippinesPHL$764,000,000,000
Jeff BezosUSA$131,000,000,000
MyanmarMMR$116,000,000,000
SETADIRN$93,000,000,000
Mark ZuckerbergUSA$62,000,000,000
Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationUSA$46,000,000,000
Harvard UniversityUSA$37,000,000,000
Giovanni Ferrero (Chocolate)ITA$32,000,000,000
Vatican CityVAT$15,000,000,000

If you check the world’s comprehensive list of billionaires in Wikipedia and Forbes, you will surely conclude that the Vatican’s wealth is nothing. You may also compare the Vatican’s wealth to that of your country in this list of countries by total wealth.

From these points we learn that the Catholic Church (universally) has no money. Many would try to sum up the wealth of all individual local churches just to prove their point. Some would try to calculate the money the Vatican would make if everything it has is sold. Whatever they do, the end result would still remain a small percentage compared to that of other countries, individual billionaires, and wealthy organizations, if they were to do the same.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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