One of the most commonly repeated criticisms of the Catholic Church, by both Christians and non-Christians alike, is the amount of time and money the Church puts into its basilicas, such as St. Peter’s in the Vatican. Critics of the basilicas claim they serve as a massive testament to church greed. However, these claims are made in a blind ignorance to truth.
$11,350,000,000 Kept VS $160,250,000,000 Given Away (Annually*)
The claim that the Catholic Church indulges in greed is simply not supported in any way by the Church’s spending history. The Catholic Church spends about $11,350,000,000 every year on its churches, schools, parish related properties, and the Vatican combined. That’s a minor 6.6% of total spending. Meanwhile, the other $160,250,000,000 (93.4% of spending) goes to hospitals, colleges/universities, and various charities. Simply put, the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization on the planet.
*Based on Spending in 2010
Should that 6.6% Be Donated As Well?
The wealth here is the wealth used to build basilicas, monolithic structures constructed to worship God and honor the Saints. It is because of their purpose to worship God that the wealth is justly kept and spent. The Bible specifically condones the use of wealth for the worship of God in The Gospel of John.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wagesand given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. -John 12, 3-7
Furthermore, God demands his houses of worship be beautiful in The Book of Exodus 25-26, even if that house of worship be only a simple tent in the desert. Also, the Temple in Jerusalem was adorned with gems and gold, as evident in The First Book of Kings 6 as well as The Second Book of Chronicles 3. Extravagant Churches are explicitly biblical.
– James Ingalls