The Catholic Church’s Wealth

Because of the beauty and majesty of Catholic church art and architecture, some people question why the Church does not use its wealth to help the poor.

In reality, the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, treats, shelters, educates, and houses more poor and vulnerable people on an on-going basis than any other country or organization.

It is fitting that the design of Catholic churches honor Jesus because He is truly present there in every tabernacle around the world.

The splendor of these Catholic church buildings gives glory to God while, at the same time, inspiring the poor in faith and virtue.

Artists and craftsmen provided their services over centuries to illustrate the biblical story of salvation history and the truths of the Catholic faith. It would be wrong for the Church to sell these priceless works.

While the Church does have valuable assets, it also has many financial obligations attached to them in addition to salaries and benefits for it’s employees, upkeep and maintenance of its properties, and supplies and equipment for its services. Many parishes and dioceses throughout the world actually operate in debt.

It is possible to create beauty and still serve the poor:

Jesus is represented in both the splendor and poverty of the Church:

Writing from this Apostolic Palace, which is a mine of masterpieces perhaps unique in the world, I would rather give voice to the supreme artists who in this place lavished the wealth of their genius, often charged with great spiritual depth. From here can be heard the voice of Michelangelo who in the Sistine Chapel has presented the drama and mystery of the world from the Creation to the Last Judgement, giving a face to God the Father, to Christ the Judge, and to man on his arduous journey from the dawn to the consummation of history. Here speaks the delicate and profound genius of Raphael, highlighting in the array of his paintings, and especially in the “Dispute” in the Room of the Signatura, the mystery of the revelation of the Triune God, who in the Eucharist befriends man and sheds light on the questions and expectations of human intelligence. From this place, from the majestic Basilica dedicated to the Prince of the Apostles, from the Colonnade which spreads out from it like two arms open to welcome the whole human family, we still hear Bramante, Bernini, Borromini, Maderno, to name only the more important artists, all rendering visible the perception of the mystery which makes of the Church a universally hospitable community, mother and travelling companion to all men and women in their search for God.

Pope John Paul II, Letter to Artists, 4 April 1999

Treasure that is not the Church’s to sell:

Beauty that directs hearts and minds toward God:

Created “in the Image of God,” man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being’s inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man’s own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God’s activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2501

The Catholic Church is the greatest charitable organization ever:

The true treasure of the Church is people in need:

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the Apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.

Acts 2: 42-45

The Church requires resources to complete its divine mission:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Worship that is focused on Jesus:

Share this page with friends and family to start a conversation about your faith.

Don’t miss a post. Learn more about the Catholic Church and strengthen your Catholic faith.

Find more Fiercely Catholic video issues here.

Subscribe here.

Book a Fiercely Catholic program at your next conference, retreat, or other Catholic event.