An Eye On The New Guy

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.

Now yes, most of the treasures were gotten long 84301656_d8638b4193before our time, when it’s pretty clear that the Church was certainly not the representative of Christ on earth.

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?

062808bI wonder how Christ would react if he walked Inside the Vatican. I wonder if those reasons would pass muster. I kind of really don’t think so.

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.”

Hmmm.  Not sure what to make of this new guy. Maybe he’ll sell some of the paintings?4577728-3x2-700x467


2 thoughts on “An Eye On The New Guy

  1. Herself

    enjoyed your recent blog on our beloved new pope, and the Catholic Church. I am a devote Catholic. I well understand your feelings regarding the wealth of the Catholic Church. I was also pleased that you mentioned how the Catholic Church is foremost concerned about the poor in our country and the world. to give you must have! Now regarding the art work and sculptures at the Vatican complex.. And your link to pornaugraphy. again, I feel evil is in the minds of the observers when one looks at a work of art, Are we marveling at this work of art, seeing how God created the human body to glorify Him, or are we using these art forms to forget God’s handiwork, and using them for sensual stimulation? I think any parent when looking at these works of art while accompanied by their children could have a wonderful opportunity to teach their children about the beauty of the human body. to close I would like to mention that the center of the Catholic Church is Christ. we celebrate His gift to us as we celebrateThe Eucharist(receiving the body and blood of Christ),(Matthew26,26) . Keep up the good work, as we all learn and ponder!

  2. cimcalister

    It is interesting to think that if the pope is supposed to be the temporal visage of Christ, would the Church try to make the argument that Christ walked around in ornate robes with golden staff in-hand?

    I think the second point of justification for the Vatican treasure you list is understated though. I believe the Vatican’s opulence is meant to conjure up images of heaven as described in some places in the Bible (citation needed). Propaganda, maybe. But enticing nonetheless.


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