Priests and The Vow of Poverty


Yeah, the temptation to extravagance can be greater for bishops. But, I don’t personally know too many bishops and how they live their life. The ones that I am familiar with seem to live rather modestly, all things considered.

Most Catholic Bishops come from diocesan priesthood, with a few from religious life. Though I see that you’re Orthodox, and most of them do come from the monastic life. I’ve only met one Orthodox priest (who seemed very holy), but never any bishops, so I certainly can’t comment on their lifestyles.


Now I see. I thought Catholic bishops must come from monasteries too.
When Pope Francis decided to give up certain traditions he sought too extravagant he was criticized on many Catholic sites for disrespecting tradition. So switching to this ideal poor bishop who looks like an Apostle in today’s world may be very spiritually uplifting but it will upset many people as well.
But then again bishops and priests are shepherds, how much they must take in from what the flock comments and wants is something belonging to the mystery of their charisma.


There’s an old joke that religious priests take the vow of poverty while diocesan priests live it! As you might expect from that comment I’m a diocesan priest not a religious! In fairness, my confreres in religious life who take a vow of poverty own nothing (or consequence at least - maybe the odd toothbrush) themselves but, through the vow they take, own everything in common through the order which they’re members of and are allocated property for their use. This means however that any monetary gifts which come their way (including inheritances) go to the order and not to them. In my case, I receive a modest stipend but, at the same time, have my food, housing and petrol all provided. I also get to keep any gifts I receive and can even own property (not that I do but still).

Broadly, I agree with St Paul - priesthood isn’t some sort of get rich quick scheme nor should it be the path to a cushy lifestyle. At the same time, that doesn’t mean they should receive any money at all - the labourer deserves his wages - but if money is their motivation (as shown by the fact that they’re always asking for it and aren’t all that interested if there isn’t any on offer) then they’re doing it wrong.


Yes, this really bothered me when Pope Francis was first elected. The media made a huge deal of how humble and simple the new Holy Father in a way that deliberately cast previous popes in a bad light. Our current Pope is the first religious to be elected to the throne of St Peter in a couple centuries. Neither Benedict nor St John Paul II were called to apostolic poverty.


I really do think the religious orders bring something special with their communities. The bring a unique humility where you own nothing, and can focus on other things. Its novelty in a recent Pope is certainly worth understanding and admiring. People are called to different things though.

I don’t remember what the media said back when Pope Francis became Pope. Often the media doesn’t understand things well.


Yes, and unfortunately, some Catholics picked up that narrative and ran with it. I remember quite a bit of handwringing and gnashing of teeth over Pope Francis’ liturgical attire, living quarters, and non-red shoes.


If the priests are part of religious orders they take vows of communal poverty. The rest are called to hopfully live simply and not ostentatiously. The episcopacy in many areas does this, and others would be in urgent need to live more frugally- this is to lead by example, and be good stewards to the people of God.

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