Responding to the "the Church has many riches which could feed the hungry" objection

Now, I saw a very helpful picture of how the money of the Church is spent, but I have heard some objections to the churches, specifically, which they point out have a lot of luxuries and expensive things, and this money could go into feeding the poor instead.


If someone says that the church should sell all its treasures and works of art to feed the poor, then presumably they would say the same about any museum or art gallery? Then all the great works of art would be in the hands of private collectors, the money would be gone and the poor would still be poor.

Yeah, that makes sense.

I saw a picture the other day that shows a Priest carrying a golden Cross, perhaps during Mass, and it said “yeah, lets feed the poor, said a man carrying a golden cross.”

The Church already uses a lot of its money in donations to funds and all sorts of great things. Not to mention, a church is the house of the Lord, is it not?

The fact that people say this just seems to bother me.

It also presumes that it could feed the poor of the world for more than a day, and even then it wouldn’t cover all the needs. Idealism never matches reality. However the catholic programs out there do just that, feed the poor, when no one else seems to want to, no their religious belief (faith alone, no works) calls for it.

We also house them, help them firnd jobs, and create a life. All things the government fails at…Which brings up the point, why don’t we sell the white house all the U.S treasures etc to feed the poor, they have a heck of a lot more money than we do, yet no one seems to call for that?

The current administration promised such, to help people out of poverty, as did the party in charge of congress for 6 years but the situation just in the U.S has become worse. Why no cry to sell all the stuff and fulfill the promise?

Sidelines are always a good place to criticize from.

Peace and God Bless

Judas made the same observation when the sinner woman used expensive oil to anoint Christ.

The Church safe guards the heritage of civilization. If everything was sold, the poor would be feed for a short period of time. The money would be gone and all the beauty of art work will be in the hands of the wealthy art investors.

Read the Gospel where Judas chastises the women anointing Jesus with expensive oil. Jesus rebukes Judas.

I have donated many religious items to the Church, in memory of my father in law most recently. The parish is not at liberty to sell what I have given for liturgical use. I’d be PO’ed if they did after I gave in memory of someone.

No parish is at liberty to do so. Church law requires that gifts given to parishes be used as intended, whether money or art or precious vessels or vestments.

Grow thick skin, there will always be people ready to criticize, even within the Church-- after all Judas was a disciple.

I remember a Catholic writer saying something to the extent of a beautiful church provides a beautiful place for anyone, rich or poor. This writer said it in a more eloquent way (which is one reason she’s a writer and I’m not), but essentially was saying that the poor have a right to beauty. I don’t believe the Church slacks in charity. Could we do more? Yes, everyone with two cloaks, Catholic or not, could. But I visit an amazing place like the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, a place which is open to anyone, and I am thankful to God and the benefactors and artists and craftsmen who were responsible for making it what it is.

Many of these people are people who donate little to the poor themselves.

Most of the nice things the Church has (esp outside of Europe) are a result of donations (either physical gifts or financial donations to buy the art).

If people want the Church to sell our precious, sacred art then they should start by selling all their precious items and the gifts people gave them.

How about the White House and all the governor mansions, the Capitol and all state legislatures? They should sell their art too? Plus, the Smithsonian as well?.. Auction everything off to the highest bidder?

People who make this argument lack logic. The money from selling those things would be gone quick and the art would be gone forever. In a Church, the poor have access to see the art, but in private hands no one does. Even, in a museum, the poor often do not have access to see art.

Plus, art is where most of the Church’s assets are. The Church must last forever. If the Church sold all their assets to feed the poor today, then one day in the future those assets won’t be there when/if the Church needs them to continue servicing the spiritual poor (which is the Church’s primary mission). Taking care of the financially poor is the primary mission of the laity, not the Church. But the church does take care of the poor due to the huge contributions (financial and time) from the laity and religious.

Tell them to read the Old Testament. When God instructs them to build the temple, the best material is used. Gold, timber, silver. The reason, because it’s for God. We give him the best.

Agreed with other comments. The majority of Vatican equity is in art and real estate accumulated over 2,000 years. They also have a budget from which they fund schools, hospitals, charities, ministries, etc.

Folks who make such arguements are often Protestants and atheists looking for any reason to go after the pope.

Christ assures us that we will always have the poor, and challenges us to feed et cetera…no other organization or government does more for the poor than The Church.

The “beautiful church” angle is, I think, a good response to the critics concerning the Church’s perceived wealth: The poor can just as readily enjoy the beautiful art and architecture as do the wealthy. The Church’s riches are for everyone’s enjoyment, as well as for the glory of God.

The other thing I might mention is, although we are commanded to feed the hungry, the Church’s prime mission is to lead people to heaven. It is not a soup kitchen, nor a welfare office. It exists to save souls. It’s the job of* all the followers* of Christ to feed the hungry, not just the institutional Church.

Some great answers here.


Meanwhile, tonight the Western world will spend millions and millions on…fireworks!

I agree there are some “great answers” on this thread:

This has also been my experience – that the majority of those who voice this particular complaint, though they may say much, never actually end up *doing *much to remedy the situation –as Nicene so aptly put it, they stay on the “sidelines” and never really get in the action themselves.

One is sometimes left wondering exactly which type of filter they could’ve been looking through when they read the Letter of St. James:

James 2:15-16:
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day ,and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

If we read into Mudboots’ post:

–we learn in Mark 14:1-11 , it is precisely when this same criticism arises ( the perfumed oil could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor ), that our Blessed Lord’s replies “The poor you will always have with you . . .”

Most notably, Christ’s own words to his disciples just before the crowd would be fed were “Give them some food yourselves.” [Matthew 14:16, Luke 9:13]

It will thus always be up to each of us (as opposed to any of them) to help the poor – as further evidenced when we complete the thought of our Blessed Lord from Mark 14:7 “The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me.”

On the subject of giving :If we are people of very little means, we shouldn’t let that present an insurmountable obstacle to our giving: According to our dear Lord’s own words, we actually have the opportunity/potential to contribute more than the rich do –however small our contribution may be:

He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest;

Much better to view the world through God’s own eyes, than through those of a critic.

I might add this personal observation that the criticism we’re looking at (of selling things to feed the poor) is slightly deceptive when generalized , which provides (either intentionally or inadvertently) a considerable degree of difficulty any time we may wish to give it a direct answer :
Technically speaking, though the two are certainly interrelated, according to the example we are given in sacred scripture , Jesus never fed the poor : He fed the hungry.

If you want to see what can happen when you give money to the poor (as opposed to food to the hungry) – there are ample stories in this city, about people living on social assistance who spend an inordinate amount of the living money given to them, on lottery tickets.

A best case scenario for each of us , might be to remain open to, what our Lord calls, the “wish” to do good to the poor, and to act upon that motivation . . . probably not a bad New Year’s resolution . . . but first, I’m going to join in the celebration of the feast of Mary – the Mother of God (and our Mother, who incidentally ,also happens to be Mother of the poor).

If everything was sold today, and converted to food to feed the poor, and everyone who is poor got food for today,…what happens tomorrow?

Obviously, there would be no means to generate tourist dollars, great treasures would end up in the hands of private collectors where the public could not appreciate them,.and the deficit would have astronomical growth.

My first response is the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book. Summaries of the economy of every nation are available, including the Vatican.
Most of the time the Vatican runs a deficit. I could go on about the real estate argument.

Followed by who really owns the property,

And how much money do they think is made on a third world hospital, school or orphanage?

If they tell you the CIA is controlled by the Jesuits and the Knights of Columbus, you’re probably wasting your time.

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