Are personal wealth and Catholicism compatible?


I found myself wondering today how being wealthy and/or of Nobility are compatible with Catholicism. Let me provide some thoughts I had concerning the matter:

St Luke 16:19-25
Here, the well-dressed rich man lands in hell, and the poor beggar is rewarded.

St Matthew 19:16-30; St Mark 10:17-31; St Luke 18:18-30
The Gospels here recount the encounter of a rich young ruler with Our Lord. Jesus is asked what the man had to do in order to attain eternal life, and he was given the response that he had to sell his possessions and give to the poor.

Now, I struggle to see how this could allow for Christians to be rich, dress in quality garments or be of Nobility. Yet, I understand there are some Saints who were Nobles and rich. How does this fit together? Jesus doesn’t say to the rich young man “You can keep your wealth, but take care of the poor and be humble”. He says “Give it all away.”

I recall some Notre Dame professor (whose name escapes me for the better) who argued, based on these passages, that Jesus is a Socialist. I would not agree to that, but I do feel she has some kind of point.

Since I am fond of Nobility (particularly the English), it would be quite a wrench to discover that there really isn’t a place for such things in Christianity. So, I count on you to help me understand. God bless. :slight_smile:


Being rich, wealthy and/or of Nobility is not UN-Christian! We all have our ‘stations’ in this life. But being rich and wealthy CAN dull the senses of Christian charity, love for each other and the NEED to do charitable works among your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Joseph who owned the tomb that Christ was laid in was a wealthy man! We know this because firstly he OWNED something like a tomb in the empire; secondly, he had INFLUENCE enough to convince the authorities to have Christ removed from the Cross to be laid within his property!

Kings David and Solomon? name just two of many royalty in Holy Writ. They were Godly men. Solomon in particular who built the Temple is one of the most affluent reigns in Scriptures.

But as Scriptures shows and Our Lord and St Paul warns, wealth CAN/does distract a person of faith from Godly devotion and obedience in His service. IF or once one decides to serve God - in the sense that s/he will undertake spreading the Gospel, doing service to the poor and down-trodden - collecting wealth is no longer your goal and becomes a distraction from your ‘vocation’ as it were.

The rich lad who asked Christ of how to be saved was TESTING Jesus! Big difference.
Perhaps Our Lord - who knows all things - already discerned the young man’s propensity to laud wealth over all else, and that the only way for him to overcome his ‘love’ of wealth was to be rid of it!

The passage most often missed and overlooked; *"…I tell you solemnly, THEY have had their reward"! - I take to mean that if you seek richness, ask for it and get it, have a happy life and the fruits of this world, then hope to make Heaven…?



In Catholic teaching, being obstinately rich is a mortal sin. In our Faith as it is written, all the words are important. :yup:

What I think gets lost on a lot of people is that a lot of the so-called rich do not have millions and billions of cash on hand, they have investments which in turn create jobs for others.

I am not a moralist, but that seems to me not to be obstinately rich.

However, my suggestion to anyone is to be charitable with what you have, and avoid politics of envy and worry less about what others have until you’ve got a good handle on your own affairs at least. :thumbsup:


Of course, we are **not **all called to poverty.



CutlerB #1
I count on you to help me understand.

Very much so.

This is shown in Christ’s Parable of the Talents in which Jesus lauds the servant who has multiplied talents – “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 25: 14-30). Christ certainly praised the wise use of the fundamental right of economic initiative and prudence in this parable.

By His parable of the Talents Jesus is not implying that anyone should seek wealth first in their lives. He is preaching and rewarding prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, rather than attacking those who accumulate wealth legitimately, He is lambasting the slothful. In the Encyclical Letter *Sollicitudo Rei Socialis *(On Social Concerns), 1987, #42, Pope John Paul II emphasises “Likewise, in this concern for the poor, one must not overlook that special form of poverty which consists in being deprived of fundamental human rights, in particular the right to religious freedom and also the right to freedom of economic initiative.”


Well, I believe the particular bible verse goes a bit like this…It is harder for a rich person to enter heaven than a camel to go thru the eye of a needle.

I think that speaks for itself…we may not like it, but thats just the way it is. What I worry about though, is Gods definition of a ‘rich’ person. Many of the poor in the US are rich compared to people living in 3rd world countries, so…? Kind of scary though!


That’s the part that made me think it was impossible. After all, a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle. Ergo, a rich man cannot go to heaven.

One could, I suppose, interpret this to mean “rich people who put money first”, but I would need some positive evidence that wealth is alright for that to be possible.


CutlerB #7
After all, a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle. Ergo, a rich man cannot go to heaven.
One could, I suppose, interpret this to mean “rich people who put money first”, but I would need some positive evidence that wealth is alright for that to be possible.

The answer:
Citing the case of the rich young man in Luke 18:18-25, Dr Chafuen remarks that many authors think that Jesus was condemning the possession of riches, but “the Late Scholastics indicated that this was not the correct interpretation. Citing Luke 14:26, where Jesus says, ‘If any man come to Me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be My disciple,’ the Scholastics pointed out that this passage does not enjoin Christians to hate their fathers. Such doctrine would contradict the Fourth Commandment. Thomist and Scholastic interpretations of this passage is that the entrance to the kingdom of Heaven is denied to anyone who values things more than God. In Matthew’s Gospel (10:37), the same passage reads: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to Me is not worthy of Me.’ It would be a violation of the natural order to value a created thing above its creator, as did the young ruler who pursued riches as his ultimate goal. Christians For Freedom, Dr Alejandro Chafuen, Ignatius, 1986, p 44].


I tend to believe if the original intent was people who put money first and only care about making lots of money, it would have been worded differently. something akin to…’ lovers of money, not just a ‘rich person’

I also kind of think this is misinterpreted in modern times so it does not offend anyone who is a catholic, after all, if our priest came out and said this and told the parish it would be almost impossible for ANY rich person to enter heaven, this would drive alot of people away, or scare alot of people.

A similar verse, God is asked what a rich person should do with his fortune, God tells him he should GIVE it all to the poor and follow him, but how well would this go over in modern times if priests told their followers to do this? LOL While it is true alot of rich people give to charities and help out alot of needy people, they also take the tax break, or do it for that reason, the true christian gives without taking benefits. Whenever I have given valuable donations in the past, I never take the tax break, I think that is wrong personally.



Not if that wealth is used for inappropriate personal gain.

You cannot love both GOD and mammon(money)is expressed explicitly in the scriptures. It also tells us of the poor begger lazarus and the rich man. "What happened to the rich man versus the end results for lazarus. After all we have to ask ourselves, “how can the love of GOD be in us if we serve money rather than one another in love?” If we pass by those in need and do not give to them that have need from what god offered us in life, how can we love him when we are serving only ourselves.

If we look today at the wealth and prosperity that many have and hoard… “HOW CAN THERE TRULY BE ANY IMPOVERSISHED PEOPLE?!!” “HOW CAN ANY PERSON IN THIS WORLD BE WITHOUT WHEN SOOO MANY HAVE SOOOOO MUCH?!!”"

“Where is thee love in those people that do not give away all they have to serve love unto one another?” It shocks me to no end when people can drive around in expensive vehicles, own expensive homes, wear expensive attire and still think they are followers or believers and attend mass or services!

Praise be to GOD the heavenly father and his son lord JESUS CHRIST forever>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.


Have there been great Saints who were rich? --Kings and such? Sure for example St. Louis IX–and they loved the poor…

Some are called to give it all away…some are called not to but to make good use of it (for the poor etc)…we are all to be detached…

Read all: Catechism


From these links from the Compendium of the social Doctrine of the Church



and ** “Wealth exists to be shared”** (also from that same source)


In Mt 13:44-46, as Jesus tells it:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up, then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.

“Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

As Fr Percy explains; “The force of the parable hinges on two things. The goodness of the work of merchants in and of itself is the first of these. Christ affirms the work of merchants. Why would He have used the example if He did not? Second, the parable depends on the recognition of this goodness by those who hear the parable. His audience must have had some knowledge of what constituted the work of a merchant and have had an experience of the goodness of this work. Without these two realities, the truth of the parable remains ineffectual.

In the parable of the talents, Jesus lauds the servant who has multiplied talents – “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 25: 14-30). Christ certainly praised the wise use of the fundamental right of economic initiative and prudence in this parable.

  1. “There is the emphasis on the ‘talent’, which is a measure of value.
  2. “The trading activity of the two stewards is important. Christ praises them for the energy, alertness, and perseverance they demonstrate in making a truly significant profit (they have doubled the original sum). There is a reference to accountability which is crucial to any business.
  3. “Then the nuanced criticism of fear: ‘I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground.’ This fear leads the lazy steward to avoid the risks and obstacles that are a key part of entrepreneurial work.
  4. “There is the clear reference to the financial system. The lazy steward at least could have placed the ‘money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.’ ”

“We can this affirm unambiguously that Jesus Christ ‘looks with love on upon human work’ and that the work of the merchant – the businessman or the entrepreneur – is one of the ‘different forms’ of work that is affirmed. The parable of the talents makes this clear by its reference to money, trading, risk taking and banking.”
Entrepreneurship in the Catholic Tradition, Fr Anthony G Percy, Lexington Books, 2010, p 48-49].

Free enterprise and entrepreneurship have been lauded first by Christ in the Parables of the Dishonest Steward and The Talents, and by the Fathers of the Church, and by Popes in Centesimus Annus and Caritas in Veritate.


The eye of a needle in Jesus time was the hole in the city wall where camels had to crawl through after the gates to th city was closed. The camel had to have everything taken off its back to make it through. It was tough but not impossible. There were no needles as we know them now.

Also after Jesus said this, one of the apostles asked that how can anyone get to Heaven.

Jesus said, with God all things are possible.

It’s much tougher for the rich to get to Heaven but not impossible with God’s helping.


OK, but why them did Jesus say “eye of a needle” if no one know what a needle was? :smiley:


Wouldn’t it depend on how the money is used or by what means a man comes by wealth?

A lot of rich people tend to be the type of people who walk over people, to get to their position of wealth and power they obviously have to defeat their competition to get there and such. There’s an inherit greed in men and I think money has become something which is worshiped, people spend their entire lives as if money is the meaning to their lives.
Nobody wants to live modestly anymore, they want to be rich and famous.

Then you could have an honest rich person who does a lot for charity.


I know what you mean, our parish is full of people like this! It makes me shake my head alot of times. Maybe this is a result of the priest not being a good enough teacher, or that the people are not truly interested in the faith, but only conveying the image that they are.


Please define expensive. Is it okay or is it sin to own a BMW or wear Armani? Who is the arbiter of what Catholics are not supposed to own? I personally know a couple in my church who drive a Mercedes but they spend a lot of time, talent and treasure helping out orphans and widows. They are retired so that’s what they do most of the time, helping out needy people. Their love of God is genuine and serve others out of that love.


So Kings and Queens cannot be true followers of Christ? Tell that to Saint Louis IX, or Bl. Karl of Austria. They certainly had “expensive vehicles” and expensive attire, and by golly they lived in the most expensive homes one could imagine.

Is it categorically impossible to follow Jesus simply for choosing to buy quality clothes rather than rags, or is there another factor that determines this?


Be sure to not pass these by --go and read them :slight_smile:


Usury creates poverty because you gain at someone elses expense.It depends how you have gained your wealth? If you control banking and the credit system you can creat havoc in businesses ie discredit a business let it collapse and a favoured business person pick up the market share or buy the company for pittance.This can happen to ‘start up companies’ where the original small investment is withdrawn or is not enough to get to market so the next investor gets the company with a big future for pittance. Some people just buy and sell companies. So the same people get richer and richer. If you invest and enable someone to do well and create employment thats another matter. Some interesting 'green’trusts are working their way into the economy where pension funds are transferring their investments into sustainable businesses for the common good. I think
k over the past 30 years people have witnessed a feeding frenzy of the few at the expense of stability and a change is at hand where sustainable businesses and employment is a priority rather than banking debt economies. So if your vastly rich and promise to leave all your wealth to the poor is pointless and not charitable if you have created poverty by taking all that wealth…money should be used for industry and employment not mugging people with high interest rates.

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