Title – How rich is the Roman Catholic Church?
Author – Malaga Jack
A number of complaints have been passed down to me about my last blog when I suggested that the last Pope had a €3.4 billion pension fund. Indeed, it was just a figure used to emphasise the ineptness of Gordon Brown when he sold off some UK gold reserves at a hugely reduced rate… and it was a little silly to suggest that because it is so rare for any Pope to retire the fund would be so large. So the complaints got me thinking and I decided to do some digging and what I found was so enlightening I decided to stick the complaints where the sun doesn’t shine.
The old Pope Benedict pictured right wearing a fabulous vintage chiffon-lined Dior gold lame gown over a silk Vera Wang empire waist tulle cocktail dress, accessorised with a three-foot House of Whoville hat and the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz. Ironically, he’s on his way to make a sermon explaining why it’s so wrong to be Gay. The only one sure fact that one can deduce from this photo is that had the four chaps, who are pictured helping the Pope, been born in India then they would have been doing the same for a cow, and had they been born in Iran, none of them will have had a bacon butty for breakfast.
Russ and June were once travelling back from a Rome city-break when a Cardinal sat in the aisle seat next to Russ, June was sat by the window. Shortly after take-off, the Cardinal begins a crossword puzzle. Almost immediately, the Cardinal turns to Russ and says, “Excuse me, but do you know a four letter word referring to a woman that ends in ‘unt?’” Only one word leaps to Russ’ mind. “My goodness,” thinks Russ, “I can’t tell a Cardinal that. There must be another word.” Russ thought for quite a while, and then it hit him. Turning to the Cardinal, Russ said, “I think the word you’re looking for is ‘aunt.’” “Of course,” says the Cardinal. “Do you have an eraser?”
I’ll finish by hitting you with some daunting facts… you’ll stand a better chance of finding a condom in the Vatican than a yearly accounts report. Legally speaking the Vatican does not exist, so it can’t be sued. Dioceses under the control of Bishops can be sued but many in the USA have, in the light of abuse litigation, declared bankruptcy.
The lack of legal obligation to produce accounts and the churches secretive procedures make it very difficult to accurately assess it’s wealth but a 2012 investigation by the Economist, was able to estimate the annual spending of the Catholic Church in the USA, which includes many hospitals and higher education institutes, at $170 billion. Compare that with the two biggest companies, Apple and General Motors, whose annual TURNOVER are both around $150 billion and that’s WORLDWIDE.
Chuck in the Catholic powerhouses of Brazil, Spain and Italy and you have the richest and most powerful institution in the world, outside a few governments. So don’t dig too deep or you’ll finish up swinging beneath Blackfriars Bridge.