The Church Should ‘Walk the Talk’ and Sell Her Wealth for the Poor

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The claim is similar to that of the anointing scene at Bethany when Mary (Martha’s sister) took a pound of costly ointment for pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. But Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’s disciples (he who was to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred dinarii (one year of individual income) and given the money to the poor?” (Matthew 26:9, Mark 14:5, John 12:5)

Indeed, many will say nowadays, especially during this time of pandemic, that the Church should ‘walk the talk’ and sell her wealth and help the poor and those affected by the crisis. I hope those who are demanding this really care about the poor and not because of their hatred against the Church? If they genuinely care about the poor then they are not like Judas who really did not care of the poor but himself (John 12:6). Perhaps they just need some enlightenment.

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We have to let them know that the Catholic Church is helping the poor since 30 A.D when our Lord Jesus Christ started his ministry. The apostles were imitators of Christ and this practice has been handed over from generations to generations. The Catholic Church (Not the Vatican) is currently the largest non-governmental provider of education and medical services in the world*.

Please take some time reading these short articles about the wealth that the Catholic Church does not have.

Where Is the Church During Difficult Times?

The Catholic Church will always help the poor out of love for Jesus. She helps the living and the dead without exception through her works of mercy. Read more Where Is the Church During Difficult Times?

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Can Vatican’s Wealth End World Poverty?

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In my previous post, we learned that the Catholic Church (as a whole) has no wealth because each local churches are independently run and the Vatican does not get a share of the local churches’ goods. We also learned that the Vatican (the country) has $15B worth of wealth. Is this amount enough to end the world poverty? Let’s see first how many people are below the poverty index!

Check this post first:

How many people are living in poverty?

The World Bank tells us that there are about 10% of the world population who are living in extreme poverty. They earn less than $1.90 a day. Ten percent of seven billion (world population) is 700,000,000. This is the count of those in extreme poverty only excluding those who barely passed the poverty line threshold. But let us use 700M in our calculations.

Is $15 billion enough for the 700 million?

If Vatican had $15,000,000,000.00 ($15 billion) and gave all this amount to 700,000,000 people in extreme poverty, each person would have $21.43. Maybe this amount can sustain the recipient for a week or a month, who knows! What is certain is when the money is gone, the 700M will return to their previous state. So the answer is a big NO. The Vatican’s wealth is not enough to end world poverty.

If the US were to do this with their $105,990,000,000,000.00 (105 trillion) of wealth. Each person then would have $150,000.00 which is more than enough to lift them up from poverty. However, giving each person this amount wont guarantee a long term solution to the problem. Also, this would leave USA with zero wealth and could no longer function as a country. With no wealth left for food, labor, investments, etc., its population of 320M people will have no income at all. So helping 700M by putting 320M at risk is surely not the best approach to the problem, neither.

How much donation is needed to support the poor?

The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM) revealed in 2013 that $60,000,000,000 ($60 billion) annually would be enough to end global poverty. Perhaps this is an estimate of how much is needed to support the poor in terms of food, shelter, medicine, etc. If these billions annually run out after many years, because they will for sure run out, then the whole world will starve.

Conclusion

I’m no expert in demography, economics, or humanity. However, it is clear that using all the money a country, or a person, or an organization will not resolve global poverty in a long term. I believe there has to have some kind of an organized system, approved by all countries, to provide decent and consistent income to those those who are earning below the threshold so that each will have enough. Then, poverty will gradually be eradicated.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Is the Vatican or the Catholic Church Super-rich?

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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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