Wealth and Christianity?

Dear Father Phil,

First off, I would like to thank you for the influence you have had on my life. The essays and homilies on your website are truly intelligent, thought provoking and they have caused me to reconsider how I am living my life. I had been sucked right into 'secular humanism' and I wasn't even aware of it. Your words have challenged me to live my life more in line with the Catholic Church's teachings. I can't thank you enough for helping me onto the path that leads to Christ. It's a tough road, but it's a road that I want to take. You are truly blessed to be able to capture interest and help people understand the Catholic Faith without giving a watered down version. Thank you.

Secondly, I am looking for some guidance in attempting to answer the following question concerning the Vatican, directed to me by a "Modernist" Christian on an online discussion.

She writes:

"(The Vatican) is one of the wealthiest entities on the earth. Wealth and Christianity? Seems to be a bit of a conflict there as our Savior preached against the "Love of Money." Why don't they liquidate all of their material possessions worth billions and feed all the starving people worldwide?"

Thank you for your time.



Just letting you know that I put together an answer ... I hope that I wasn't too harsh. Please feel free to give me feedback.

My answer... (Name) you are incorrect in your assumption that the Vatican is one of the wealthiest entities on the earth. Just a few years ago the vatican was in the red. And keep in mind, the Vatican administers to over one billion people and performs diplomatic duties with a tight budget. The Vatican (Catholic Church) does, however, have one of the wealthiest art collections in the world and acts as a museum by safeguarding cultural capital which anyone is able to visit.

Even with this said, the Catholic Church is the biggest aid giver in the world. You don't hear about it because through our Faith it is believed that good deeds are often tainted by external (superficial) reward if done for all to see. The Catholic Church is very humble about the good works they perform.

Something else that's important to note is the fact that the Pope, cardinals, bishops, monks, nuns, and many priests take the vow of poverty... meaning... they don't possess any material belongings that they can call their own.

The issue you bring up here should not be "what is the Church doing?", but rather, it should be a time for reflection on your own materialism. If you truly feel strongly about the conflict of material wealth on Christian living, why don't you liquidate all of your wealth, give it all to the poor, and take up the cross to follow Jesus (like many of your Catholic brothers and sisters)?



Dear Murray,

Thanks for your email and kind words. Your response seems good to me - especially pointing out the Church's care for the poor and stewardship of some of the artistic patrimony of the world.

It doesn't affect your argument but one precision is that only those in religious orders take a "vow of poverty," that is, to have no personal possessions but own everything in common. Diocesan (secular) priests like myself are permitted to have personal title to a car, computer, clothes, whatever. Still like all Christians we are bound by the words of Christ which you and your correspondent refer to. The pope (himself a secular priest) is a remarkable example of Gospel poverty. He has never had a bank account - and if you have read Witness to Hope, you know he has given away almost everything he has received (sometimes to the chagrin of the donor). At the same time he enjoys a good meal, outdoor sports, etc. which involve modest expenses - not to mention medical care has a high price tag.

Of course, your correspondent could point to many example of greed even among clergy and religious, especially looking back in history. The world, flesh and devil affect us - and we also need prayers and grace to resist. Altho that has not been my particular area of weakness, I do appreciate your prayers. You have mine.

God bless.

Fr. Phil Bloom

Other Questions