This morning I read something which surprised me. For a long time I have accepted secular and conventional wisdom on the Catholic Church. I had thought that the Catholic Church was rich. People told me so. I believed it.
I had thought there might be something in the claim that the Catholic Church had a lot of money in the bank. And so it is often asked how it could truly represent the poor and marginalized in the world? A good question until I found some time to read more into the subject.
In an acclaimed book entitled, “Sacred Causes” by Michael Burleigh there is plenty of detailed information which explains things. On page 70, Burleigh says:
“During the first world war, pope Benedict XV gave away his own fortune and then the Holy See’s ordinary revenue to repatriate prisoners of war and civilian refugees, so that by 1922 the Vatican treasury amounted to the lire equivalent of £10,000. Unable to pawn a Bernini, Michelangelo or a Raphael, his successor managed to deplete the financial recources still further, with generous donations to those ruined by the hyper inflation in Weimer Germany and gifts to the starving multitudes in the Soviet Union. Only the generosity and financial acumen of North American Catholics staved of financial ruination.”
Now this breaks a few secular myths, does it not. Good for you Catholic Church. As usual the secular world invents its very own secular myths whilst ignoring the truth.