I heard criticism about the luxuriousness of the Vatican and St. Peter’s, while there are so many poor people. Where did the money come from to build these things?
First of all, if someone is critical of the Vatican, are they also critical of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6)? By all accounts, the Temple of Solomon would have made the Vatican look rather poor by comparison. Should the Israelite
John L. Allen, Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, mentioned the following in a talk he gave for the “Church in the 21st Century Initiative,” a few years ago:“Contrary to popular impression, the Vatican is a spartan operation. Its annual operating budget is about $277 million. The University of Notre Dame’s annual operating budget, by comparison, is $700 million. The Vatican’s endowment is about $770 million. By contrast, the University of Notre Dame’s endowment is $3.1 billion. The Holy See is indeed in need of financial support from the Catholic world, and American Catholics usually supply about 25 percent of the annual operating budget.
“What about the artwork—the Pietà, the Raphael frescoes, and so on? These treasures are literally priceless, but they appear on the Vatican books with a value of one euro. According to the [laws] of the Vatican City State, they may never be sold or borrowed against.”
The “wealth” of the Vatican has accumulated over the centuries and is basically art work, historical documents, and buildings. The Vatican views these buildings, historical documents, and works of art as belonging to all peoples – they are merely under the care of the Vatican. They are not for sell because the Vatican doesn’t view them as its personal property too sell. Why not sell all the works of art in the Louvre? Or in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art? Why not sell the Mona Lisa to feed the poor? Why don’t museums sell off their Rembrandts and Van Goghs and Picassos to feed the poor?
Again, from John Allen’s essay: “About 20 years ago, Peter Drucker, the management consultant, concluded that the three most efficient organizations in history were General Motors, the 19th-century Prussian Army, and the Catholic Church. He put the Church on his list because it manages to hold a worldwide organization together with an exceptionally small central headquarters. For the 1.1 billion Catholics, there are about 1,700 people working in the [Vatican]. As Drucker pointed out, if the same ratio were applied to our government in Washington, D.C., there would be 500 federal employees working in the capital, as opposed to roughly 500,000.”
Just give people the facts about the Vatican’s “wealth,” and let them decide for themselves.
~ John Martingnoni (biblechristiansociety.com)