STAFF OPINION: The Catholic Church has always been about money
When you picture the Catholic Church and the Vatican, I’m sure you don’t picture the greatest corporation in the world.
But the Catholic Church is a donation-run religion, and with the support of 1.3 billion members, that’s a lot of money. Have you ever wondered where that money goes?
If you pay attention to the news, you may have seen that in 2021 the Catholic Church reported that it was short of money and desperate for donations despite the Catholic Church 170 million acre real estate empireor their estimate Investment portfolio of 10 to 15 billion dollars. But who knows, hiding the sexual abuse of children by catholic priests probably isn’t cheap.
Although these two factors constitute a large part of the assets claimed by the Church, the true financial situation is shrouded in mystery, and for good reason. God forbid people to find out how much it costs to put priests in million dollar mansions.
The real question is: have the financial dealings of the Catholic Church always been so shady? The answer is: absolutely.
Before popes ruled the Vatican, they served as kings of the Papal States, a secular empire. As an empire, the popes were able to tax the people, but there is only a limited amount of wealth you can take from the poor peasants to fund the lavish lifestyle of the cardinals. It was time for a new plan.
As representatives of God, the popes of old had the brilliant idea of allowing members of the Catholic Church to pay money not to burn in hell, or as the Catholic Church called them: indulgences. Did you do something horrible? No problem! Just pay some money to the Church and you will be welcomed at the pearly gates of heaven.
This couldn’t go on forever though, as people aren’t really big fans of stealing their money. After a few revolutions, the Papal States would fall and the amount of Vatican-controlled exploitable population had all but disappeared.
Now known as Vatican City, Catholic Church leaders had to find other ways to make money. Thus, the Church would begin to sell”Peter’s pennywhich was essentially a brand change of indulgences. Like any good business, the Church then began to invest in secular businesses to expand its portfolio, and what could be more profitable than war?
During World War II, the Vatican sided with the Nazis in one of their most rewarding business decisions to date. Instead of remaining neutral, Pope Pius XXI would have decided to to assist Hitler in his rise to power while the Vatican turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. In exchange, a Lucrative Nazi Concordat enabled the Church to tax millions of citizens, while millions more died in death camps.
Not only that, but the Vatican too profited from life insurance policies of murdered jews while their bank stored millions in money stolen during the war.
Since then, the Vatican has maintained its activity by helping launder millions in donations, purchase million dollars worth of houses for its archbishopsand of course enjoy massive amounts of penance from all corners of the globe (including only 10% actually goes to the poor).
So, unfortunately, I cannot tell you how much the Catholic Church is worth. I also can’t tell you where your money is going. But I can tell you that at least $3 billion of that money went to settlements and compensation for victims of sexual abuse (although, who knows the actual number, given that an unknown amount of victims’ claims have been removed).
I want to emphasize that I am not here to criticize the Catholic religion itself. I believe that everyone has the right to believe what they want and that this right is extremely important.
But know where your money is going.
If that money is secretly funding mansions for religious figures, covering up sex abuse scandals, or laundering into the pockets of the elite, it might be time to reevaluate your finances.
Austin Thompson is a reporter at The Beacon. He can be reached at [email protected].
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