Ask a Question - or - Return to the Defending the Faith Forum Index

Question Title Posted By Question Date
Defending grand cathederals, churches. Fred Sunday, June 9, 2013


Dear Bro Ignatius,

A friend of mine was criticising the church for our grand cathedrals, churches, wealth etc and quoted "Jesus said to give all your possession away and follow me".

How would you answer him?

Thank you and God bless.


Question Answered by

Dear Fred:

The Church is not wealthy. The annual budget of the Vatican (around $350 million) is about 17 times less than the budget for the State of Iowa (6.2 billion) and is often in the red. Dioceses are mostly strapped for money. Parishes are closing down because of lack of money. Contrary to popular opinion, the Vatican does not fund dioceses, and the dioceses do not fund its parishes. Each entity must pay for itself. That is also true for religious orders.

The first question I would ask your friend is, "When are you going to give away all your possessions and follow Christ." Without exception the people who make this stupid charge against the Church are ignorant of the facts and would never give up their goodies for anybody. Many of these people are just anti-Catholic bigots (even if there are Catholics) looking for a bugaboo.

If the Vatican were to divest itself of all its artwork and other valuables it would feed the world's poor for about a month at most.  But, then the world would be deprived of the beauty contained in its museums. Those collections would end up in private hands or scattered throughout the world in various museums. This means that most people will be deprived of seeing God's beauty as they may be able to go to Rome, but not around the world.

This is the whole point of museums — to centralize the collections of art, history, science, etc. so that people can see and experience the artifacts. This is also the point of libraries. Does you friend suggest that all museums and libraries sell off their artifacts and books and give the money to the poor? If not, why is he picking on Vatican museums and libraries? Could it be bigotry?

The economy for Christians in the New Testament is not exclusive to "give away all your possessions." Some Christians also came together in groups to pool their resources together, and other Christians lived independent lives but tithed to contribute to the needs of the Church. Jesus did not demand that everyone give up all their possessions and live itinerant lifestyle surviving on alms (donations).

As for other aspects such as cathedrals and the like, those are built in honor of God. We are to present our best to God. If we are to build a grand White House for the President, are we to build a shack for our God?

Abel gave of his first-fruits, the best of his labor and accept for himself what was left. Cain kept the best for himself and offered God the leftovers. When God honored Abel and not Cain, he decided to kill his brother. Your friend, and all those people who spew this idea, remind me of Cain. In addition, God Himself ordered that the Ark of the Covenant be constructed out of the most expensive wood covered with gold. God gave similar expensive instructions to build the Temple. Jesus allowed Mary to anoint him with oil that cost a full year's wages. It seems that God has a different opinion than your friend.

It is God, not man, who identifies Himself as King, the King of Kings. If we are to adorn our earthly kings (Presidents) with find houses, castles, monuments, art, and the like, how much more ought we to offer to God those first-fruits of man can creativity and labor.

There is not a single person going hungry or naked because of this. The Catholic Church is the NUMBER ONE charity in the world, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless. No institution on the planet does more than the Catholic Church.

Does your friend even donate $5 to any worthy cause? Why does he not sell his car, TV, cell phone, air conditioner, fine clothes, a full refrigerator, and his house? He can live in a shack with old and tattered clothes, walk everywhere he goes, and live off alms. That is what the Apostles did. I bet your friend would be horrified to think about living off nothing but donations. I have actually done that—divested myself of all assets and lived off alms, to follow Christ as a celibate brother-hermit. I didn't have much, I was homeless at times, I had little food sometimes. I lived on whatever donations came in, but I had many blessings.

Unless he is willing to put himself in the same position he wants for the Church, he is just an ignorant bigot blathering about things for which he hasn't a clue.

The Church has a solemn obligation to promote, build, collect, and to protect beauty (which is directly related to the divine) as a trust for the people. That beauty lifts up the human soul to God. The world would be sorely impoverished if the Church did not do this.

The Church has the solemn obligation to give back to God the best that man can create. It is a love offering to God.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary