Is it a sin for a religous to buy a brand new car?


#1

I came across an article that claimed Pope Francis was upset that priests and sisters have bought brand new cars. Here is the article.

wdtprs.com/blog/2013/07/pope-francis-inspected-vatican-parking-checked-what-cars-are-driven/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wdtprs%2FDhFa+%28Fr.+Z%27s+Blog±+What+Does+The+Prayer+Really+Say%3F%29&utm_content=FaceBook

Inspection – The Pope declared war on the Vatican’s luxury cars. First, he attacked wastefulness, underscoring that “it bothers me when I see a priest or a sister with a brand new car”. Then, a few days later, he put into practice what he had stated during a meeting with seminarians: on Wednesday he made an inspection of the Vatican parking lot. It isn’t the first time – already in the past days Pope Francis, on his way to lunch with a cardinal friend, visited the place where some cardinals usually park their cars.

Even if Pope Francis really believes that would it still be a sin for the priests and sisters to continue with their brand new cars?


#2

I think that buying a new car is less the issue, than that of priests or Religious buying luxury cars.
The pope, in imitation of Christ, and in sympathy with the many who live in poverty, is not in favor of luxury purchases.
Certainly a priest...anyone...would be reasonable to buy a reliable and safe car, which can include good functional second-hand vehicles.
Cars that may need expensive repairs is not helpful either.
I think we do need to be careful not to second-guess why any priest bought any particular car.


#3

I, too, see a difference between buying a luxury car vs. buying a brand new car.

I have typically bought used, but most recently, it was time to replace my 10 year old 15-passenger van with something smaller. I bought brand new because 1) I'm a single mother of a large family. I need a car I can absolutely rely on and feel safe in. 2) Buying a used vehicle that ends up needing repairs wouldn't necessarily save much or anything over car payments, especially if I end up unable to get to work as a result. 3) Thanks to Cash for Clunkers (or so the salesmen told me, I was buying at a time when I was literally paying only about $3,000 more for a brand new car than for a car with 20 to 30,000 miles on it. 4) I fully intend to have this vehicle for ten years or until more kids have left home and it's time to downsize again.

I believe the issue here for religious is the same for anyone who believes we have a religious duty to be good stewards of what God gave us, and that is fiscal responsibility. In my case, I believe it was the responsible thing to do, given the circumstances at the time. So I don't think it's necessarily sinful for a religious to have a new car.


#4

Buying a used car makes no sense if you have the means to purchase a new car. Maybe an almost-new car would be okay, but you have to consider maintenance, mileage, economy, and longevity. Parish priests, for example, don’t have to live in abject poverty. That’s not their role in life. We ought to pay them commensurate with their abilities and skills, which easily places them in the middle class. Nor does a parish priest need to live like St. Francis. If a religious gives everything up to live a life of poverty, then great.

As far as religious, if they don’t have rules regarding poverty, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to purchase a decent automobile with their own income.

The way I see it is that we already know what a diocese generally pays its parish priests. I am not sure about religious, but I am sure it’s not that hard to find out. What people ought to do is look at that income and decide if that income is appropriate. If it is not an appropriate income, then address that issue. If it is an appropriate income, and this person wishes to spend their income on a new car rather than a used car, then I don’t see the problem. It’s not my business what my parish priest drives. If he were driving a beater, then I would hope he gets enough income to purchase a reliable vehicle.


#5

Well a “religious” (who typically take vows of poverty among others) can neither buy a car nor own a car.

They have no money of their own and have no credit rating, so buying one outright or financing one would be impossible.

They are not allowed to own anything of their own, so they could not own a car.

They could drive a new car though if someone donated it and if their ministry needed it, and if their local guardian allowed it.


#6

The Holy Father was primarily addressing bishops and priests. I think I can see his point if he was actually addressing purchasing flashy or luxury (status) cars, since that really would send a bad message to the laity. But I think the message gets confused when people translate it as “new” cars. I would hope our parish priests can afford to purchase a new car every ten to fifteen years. In America, that would put them in the middle class range.

But the way I see it, there is more of a problem purchasing a flashy car than a new car. Imagine a priest purchasing a cherry red 1967 Mustang. That’s a cool car, but it might give the wrong message. However, a 2013 Honda Civic is a new car which costs about the same, and doesn’t send such a message at all.

I think the problem is that we want to perceive clergy as detached from worldly things in order to set good examples. That doesn’t mean they ought to ride a donkey to the store, or drive an El Camino barely held together with bondo and electrical tape.

It’s sort of like how the Pharisees lost the point of the message in the details.


#7

Why did that blogger refer to the poor in Spanish. A vitriolic attack motivated by ethnicity? Lets hope not. As for the Sedia Gestatoria. Is he serious? With all the security issues. Grow up!


#8

I agree that a priest should buy a decent but not luxury car. You said that priests are middle class. How do you arrive at that? Is not US supposed to be a classless society?


#9

I knew a priest that owned a Mustang. He was the director of a college campus ministry so to be honest the Mustang was probably a great way to start conversations with college students. Not that one's car should matter, but let's be honest, the Mustang is going to make for better conversations than showing up in an old hatchback. He was a perfect priest for the job. He was old enough to be the parent of most of us, but it was pretty clear he also absolutely reveled in being able to somewhat relive his college days though his work with college students. He really had a gift for working with that age group. As for the car, it was also a really easy car to spot, so we always knew when he was at the Catholic Center.

I knew another priest that drove about 800 miles a week in order to get to all of the parishes he worked with and he drove a really old truck. When discussing how a priest buys a newer car, he joked that "Being a priest is financially like being a college student for the rest of your life". A couple of us chipped in and bought him a AAA membership so he wouldn't get stuck on the side of some rural road in the beat up old truck. Ultimately, he was able to get a new car, but the AAA membership did give us all a bit more peace of mind while he was trying to get just a few more miles out of the truck.

I know that diocesan priests do not necessarily take the same vow of poverty and therefore may own some more expensive things that are given to them and/or loaned to them. Perhaps some of the fancier cars are owned by priests that are allowed to drive things that are given to them by family members or donors?


#10

This issue came up in the Philippines not too long back - it seems some bishops had the pleasure of driving brand new SUVs paid for out of government funds. their claim was that they need such vehicles in order to visit the more remote parts of some of their dioceses. Why they same result couldn’t be achieved with say a Toyota Hilux was never really explained. Suffice to say, they returned the cars…

I think the answer to the original question is that it depends on how the vehicle was obtained (basically who paid for it). I think however that the real issue which the Pope is getting at isn’t about money its about image. Put simply, impressions matter. People (rightly) have certain expectations of priests and religious and these include simplicity and humility. Even though they don’t take a vow of poverty, there is an expectation (justifiably) that diocesan priests will live in a way which reflects these values which are of course the same values which Christ displayed in his life.


#11

When I was a child about 100 years ago the Bishop had a Rolls Royce and a chauffeur. He was swathed in purple silk and sported a ring with an enormous garnet or something which we all knelt to kiss. Times do change LOL


#12

[quote="triumphguy, post:5, topic:332856"]
Well a "religious" (who typically take vows of poverty among others) can neither buy a car nor own a car.

They have no money of their own and have no credit rating, so buying one outright or financing one would be impossible.

They are not allowed to own anything of their own, so they could not own a car.

They could drive a new car though if someone donated it and if their ministry needed it, and if their local guardian allowed it.

[/quote]

Not quite... Each community works this out differently, but the community collectively owns the car. Yes, they can be donated but they can also be purchased by the community. We just purchased a car this year because one of the old ones died and we got a very good deal on a newish used car. For our ministry the car is a need and is keeping with poverty. To simplify it, communities have funds, individual sisters do not.

I do think it is in very poor taste for a priest in a poor neighborhood to be driving a Lexus SUV... And yet that is something I have personally experienced. I'm not judging that priests character but I hope the Holy Fathers statement will cause him to rethink this divisive situation.


#13

“Middle class” in this sense in the US refers to economic classes rather than social class. We don’t have aristocracy or royalty. “Middle class” essentially means one is neither wealthy or poor, but has an income and lifestyle roughly between the two, and is the largest economic class.

That is a very basic explanation.


#14

[quote="CB_Catholic, post:13, topic:332856"]
"Middle class" in this sense in the US refers to economic classes rather than social class. We don't have aristocracy or royalty. "Middle class" essentially means one is neither wealthy or poor, but has an income and lifestyle roughly between the two, and is the largest economic class.

That is a very basic explanation.

[/quote]

Thank you


#15

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