The new Roman Catholic Pope has really given me some consternation. For a while, I’ve wanted to have a discussion about the incongruity between the treasures of the Vatican and the message of Christ.
The Vatican, Vatican City, and the Catholic Church (which are kind of distinct things – I’m going to combine them for simplicity,) sits on a pile of wealth in the form of art, architecture, sculpture, metals, and historical treasures. It keeps billions of dollars in its holdings.
I mean inquisitions, indulgences, crusades, and simony? Or in other words, torture, greed, war, and corruption?
And it’s true that these activities were not the policy of the Church, but rather the practice. But are we defined by what we say, apart from what we do? See James.
How about selling some of those paintings? Or all of them? Those sculptures? Christ called us to sell our possessions and give them to the poor. So did Paul. The members of the very first church sold possessions so that none of them would go for want.
But that’s one of the problems with amassing treasure. Once you do, it’s tough to get rid of. You reason and rationalize why you shouldn’t or can’t.
The Vatican will say that they give to the poor. And they do. The Catholic Church is the biggest provider to the poor in the world. Think how much more they could provide if they sold some of the paintings! I think of a little poverty stricken girl who looks at me from the TV and asks “Won’t you help me?” standing in the marble halls looking up at the golden columns.
And c’mon – most of that artwork might ought to have been considered pornography in it’s day, and what parent doesn’t have some embarrassment walking by them with their young kids? How about we get rid of some of the pornography?
From Wikipedia regarding Michelangelo: Once completed, the depiction of Christ and the Virgin Mary naked was considered sacrilegious, and Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini (Mantua’s ambassador) campaigned to have the fresco removed or censored, but the Pope resisted.
1 Tim. 2:9? Hello? Anybody there? Julius? Leo? Clement?
Now there are lots of reasons for justifying keeping things the way they are:
- The Vatican meets its operating budget from tourism
- The treasures are meant to point to the glory of God
- The Church needs to care for these cultural treasures (by the way, there is a Church sanctioned National Geographic photo book called Inside the Vatican, the promo for which uses the word “treasure” no less than a billion times. Hello? In the face of Christ’s commands regarding treasure, are you too dense to at least call it something other than treasure? Anybody there?
What do you picture when you think of the Pope? A man with ornate flowing robes holding a jewel encrusted golden staff, walking down a lush red carpet, or standing on a marble balcony, or sitting on a golden throne? Hello?
Now along comes this new Pope and throws a monkey wrench into my whole diatribe. Who does he think he is, this new Pope who has a long record of concern for the poor, is humble, chooses to live what amounts to a hotel room rather than the Apostolic Palace, chooses simple dress rather than ornate robes, takes the name of the man most known as a servant to the poor, challenges the Canon law of the church (the ritual of foot washing being only for men,) and urges leaders to help the poor and abandon the “excessive respect for money.”