The only problem I have with the Vatican Museums, which I have visited and enjoyed, occurs when the Catholic Church pleads poverty.
>>occurs when the Catholic Church pleads poverty.<<
Could you give us a link to the Catholic Church pleading poverty?
Maybe an individual parish but the Church?
And, also, some of these CAN'T be sold -- can you imagine chipping up parts of the Sistine chapel?
Spend time and explore on your own and you'll enjoy the experience more. Don't try to see everything, just plan and focus on what YOU are interested in
Nah, I know what netmilsmom means, but I do know what you’re talking about. The Catholic Church certainly asks for money to accomplish its mission. They spend an infinitessimal amount of time doing so compared to most Protestant churches, but it does seem to master guilt invoking: *some* Protestants promise that giving your money away will make you rich; the Catholic church promises it will make you one with the poor.
The Catholic Church used to be fabulously wealthy... if you measure wealth by land holdings. For hundreds of years, Europe had very few wars (the Crusades were a frontier skirmish compared to the 30 Years’ War). Reversing what most people believe, the life expectancy was higher in AD 1300 than in AD 1900. And there were often fewer than 200 work days in a year.
Birth rates were moderated by delayed weaning, a seemingly endless list of feast days and solemnities when sex would be considered improper, and a near total lack of privacy: the entire community shared food, shelter, and, uh, sleeping quarters (the “apartment” was a technological breakthrough accomplished by the development of heat-redirecting chimneys.) Oh, yes, and if “wealthy” parents had more children than they could provide inheritances for (since subdivision of estates was unheard of), there was a strong encouragement to join the monasteries, seminaries, and convents. Of course, when a couple died without heirs, their land was acquired by the church, where the monks, priests, sisters and nuns could live in enough comfort that it remained an attractive lifestyle, despite the lack of sex.
Thus, prior to the plague and Ottoman invasions, much of Europe lacked any accumulated wealth, but had decent longevity and a remarkable amount of leisure time. The plague caused a dramatic drop in population, however. Soon, there was an excess of land, and a “middle class,” independent of the communal manors sprung up. Separated from all the festivals, the middle class proved more productive than the manor caste, and soon became far wealthier. At the same time, apartments, international trade, and standing armies created kings who could isolate themselves from their subjects and enjoy fantastic opulence...
Meanwhile, church lands, once providing for the needs of a massive clerical caste, were now sitting largely empty. The church lost nearly all such lands, if not when the Muslims conquered the various lands (Spain, Portugal, lower Italy, the Balkans, Hungary, Bohemia, and of course all of the MIddle East and North Africa), then to Protestant revolts (UK, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland), or to the secular states (Upper Italy, France, Latin America). And each group looted and plundered as much as they could.
The Vatican City now consists of a tiny fraction of the amount of land that a prominent college might have, 110 acres. It is the Capital city and contains the concentrated artistic wealth of a Church of 1.4 billion people... which amounts to what? a buck a person???
The art contained inside is literally priceless. As in, it can’t really be sold off, so it isn’t even really worth a buck a person. Each year, the Vatican collects “Peter’s Pence,” from the various wealthier dioceses around the world, to pay for the cost of maintaining and preserving the Vatican; that fund was finally in the black after decades of being in the red... until the economic crash of ‘08.
So “the fabulous wealth” of the Catholic church amounts to 110 acres, and an art collection that the church is literally going broke trying to preserve.
On the other hand, dioceses and parishes have independent finances, and some still have decent-sized land holdings; churches’ tendency to anticipate future needs of their flock tends to make them pretty good real-estate speculators. But in this regard, the Catholic Church are poor brothers in the United States to other American denominations with a tiny fraction of the followers. Many people would be shocked to find out the precarious finances of the dioceses and the Vatican, precisely because the Catholic church is so loathe to “claim poverty,” as Netmilsmom accurately states.