How rich is the Roman Catholic Church?

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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.

pope-franThe 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.

The Ratzinger Retirement Riddle

Pope-Benedict-XVIIt was a shock to most of us when Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement this week. Plenty reckon they saw it coming but it was a shock to most. So why is he, the first pope for 600 years, going to retire? Was it to get his hands on the pension fund, it must be huge after 600 years.  Nope, 18 months ago the Vatican consulted the greatest Chancellor of the Exchequer of all time, Gordon Brown, to re-invest the €3.4 billion pension fund that’s made up in gold bars. He advised them to convert their gold into cash, ready for investing and they went for it.

On the Monday, to the surprise of the Holy See,  Brown announced to the world that the gold would be going on sale Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday morning the price of gold plummeted to 25% of its value listed on Monday. The sale happened and on Wednesday morning it returned to the Monday price. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s what Brown did with our gold back in the late 90’s.

Brown explained to the Vatican officials that there was nothing unusual about such losses on the gold market and the now €850 million fund should be placed on the stock market. After a private phone call to his pal in Brussels, Peter Mandelson, he then split the fund in two and invested half on a sure bet… Demetri’s Kebab Deli chain in Greece that was about to go global and the other half on a long shot… Kinnock’s Equine Slaughter House in Ghent, Belgium.

After 18 months, up until a month ago, Demetri’s had gone “TitsUp”, a brokers term for bankrupt but Brown couldn’t possibly have forecast the demise of the Greek economy. The Kinnock long shot was a different baby, that part of the fund had increased its valued to €950 million and rising. If only they had sold their stock a month ago. Trading in the shares was suspended on Monday as the horse meat for beef crisis deepens.

So if there’s nothing in the pension pot, why is he retiring? Word on the backstreets of Rome has cox500it that he has been watching the BBC series… the Meaning of Life, presented by Prof. Brian Cox, right. He explains how science can now prove that something, energy, can come from nothing and we have, beyond any shadow of doubt, evolved from dust particles starting about 3.2 billion years ago. This tends to spoil the lovely stories of Adam and Eve and of course Noah but retiring from the top job seems harsh.

 

Moving on and down…

 

Talking of old stories, it seems the older the story is the more that people are prepared to believe it. Would you vote for someone who claims to have met and spoke with God? Naw course you wouldn’t.

What if an angel directed him to a buried book made of golden plates with the laws of life etched upon it? I think you would sit up a little and be intrigued enough to ask if the book can be authenticated.

What if the book had been lost? You’ve got to think… Eye-eye here we go!

There are millions of people who believe that this actually happened to one Joseph Smith in the 1820’s. With those rules in the lost book, which I assume he remembered in detail, he founded the Mormons.

Would you vote for someone who believes that all the above really happened?

Mit Romney, a man who believes in all that twaddle was recently within a whisker of becoming the most powerful man on earth and if that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine then your not using your brain like Brian Cox intended you to do.

If you need a God in your head try this bloke. This is one of only 2 good sides of religion, where someone uses faith to inspire themselves. He inspires without selling faith, well at least in this video he does. The other good side to religion is the production of beer by Trappist monks of course…
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbX6mDnMwM&w=490&h=300]

Bye for now

How To Ruin A Dinner Party

My first ever blog so I’d better introduce myself and tell you a bit about me, because I’ve promised Russ I’ll write a monthly blog about a subject I know,  I’ve known Russ and June for years, since their Saxon days, so here goes.

I’m MalagaJack, the only open gay man to frequent theALBERTinn.  I was raised locally and my parents impressed strict religious values upon me from an early age, values and beliefs that were corroborated by other people involved in my upbringing and I have to say I had a wonderful childhood.

Things changed for me after I reached puberty, I felt different. I remember my best friend asking me which pop singer I fancied most, Sandy Shaw or Petula Clark. I don’t know why but I said Sandy Shaw but in my mind I fancied Adam Faith. I then had ten years of denial leading to gradual acceptance before I came out to the world at 27.  Once the realisation took over I was actually shocked because of its simplicity and obviousness.

My biggest worries throughout my denial years were my parents and my christian beliefs. My parents were killed in a car crash when I was 25 so I was saved the agony of telling them but I would go through that agony to have them back any day. So I just had the prospect of spending the rest of eternity in Hell to come to terms with.

It was a straight guy who changed my life forever, the landlord of my local pub at that time, Russ Green. I heard him say to the local priest, who was impressing us all at the bar with his theological knowledge… “Father, there’s only one reason you’re a Christian and it’s because you were born into a Christian family in Ireland. If you’d been born in Bombay, India you’d be a Hindu and if you’d been born in Istanbul you’d be a Muslim. It’s that simple. Invisible friends are for children not for free thinking intelligent adults. One more word about religion and you’re barred,” barked Russ. It was like someone had switched a light on in my head.

I’ve mentioned my agnostic enlightenment of religion to explain the background into the title of my first blog… How To Ruin A  Dinner Party.

It’s several years ago when me and my fella, Glyn, threw a privatejanis-jon dinner party for a few friends. We invited Jono and Janis Palethorpe, pictured here pushing their way through reporters as they leave Bow Street Magistrates Court, after both giving evidence at the trial of Neil and Christine Hamilton. John is the accountant for our upmarket Mens Fashion boutique and we mistakenly thought that by befriending them he would reduce his fees but it didn’t work.

Similarly we invited Alan Thearle and his partner Emma Romano, who supplyblodders-leather Chesterfield football shirts for our boutique. Alan bank-rolls Emma’s fashion house GuestList and their photo, right, is courtesy of Cosmopolitan. Emma, known as Blodders to the Royal Family, a close confident of Princess Diana back then, promised us that our expensive bash would get a mention in the Celeb mag, Hello, but that didn’t happen either.

The final guest was a friend of Glyn called Jeremy who brought along a mystery friend who turned out to be a famous singer, a very famous singer indeed. His name can’t be published for reasons I’m not sure about but no one else ever mentions his sexuality so I’d better not either (If I was allowed to coin a phrase for it I’d call it The Jimmy Savile Syndrome). It is difficult to guess which side of the fence he sits because although he was with Jeremy he mentioned a relationship he once had with a female tennis player and took much delight from informing us the he was watching when she was licked by Billy Jean King. He knew Emma and whilst he was on one of his many visits to our toilet, Emma mentioned that the Royals called him Miss Celest because he always turned the conversation towards religion.

Sure enough, we’d not even got to the main course before our mystery guest mentioned just how strong a role religion plays in his every day life. Glyn asked him how he felt about recent scientific discoveries that contradict many religious teachings especially Creationists who believe that the Earth was created only 6000 years ago. He quickly rebuffed my Glyn with the statement… “There is someone or something out there that is far, far bigger than science.” Unfortunately I feel very protective towards Glyn, who’s often ridiculed for having long hair, so I jumped in and asked our mystery guest… “Well tell me please, in the unlikely event of you getting a chicken bone stuck in your throat and God forbid (or in his case God willing) you begin to choke, shall we administer the heimlich-maneuver or pray for you?”

The next twenty minutes was very quiet but, considering we were eating the most delicious Moroccan Chicken Tagine, you would expect it to be quiet. Before I had chance to serve the dessert, Jeremy and his mystery guest politely made an excuse and departed.

In an attempt to defuse an embarrassing moment, Jono Palethorpe asked Glyn how his beloved Chesterfield football team had performed earlier in the day and Glyn began crying uncontrollably. I slapped Jono across the face for making my Glyn cry and in a flash Janis landed a kick right between my legs. Alan Thearle said… “If there’s no more Dom Perignon left, we’ll get going” and he and Blodders got up and followed the Palethorpes out of the door.

The time was 9.50pm.

All my Glyn said was… “Can I put my shorts back on now?”