In Defense of Nice Churches

Every Catholic is at some point obliged to defend the flair his Church has for covering everything in gold.

Complaints in the vein of the internet-brilliance above aren’t without foundation. There have been all manners of abuses regarding wealth within the Church, and — if I may prophesy — there will continue to be. No sane man would defend the personal hoarding of wealth, especially not among clergymen. But when the man outside of the Church bemoans the unsold wealth of the Church, he’s not thinking of crooked cardinals or Popes parading as Renaissance princes. He is thinking of the cathedrals and the basilicas, the thrones and tabernacles of gold, the chalices of sliver and the jewel-encrusted robes, the pomp and pageantry of the largest human institution in the world. Hence:

To summarize the modern axiom: The Catholic Church has gold and refuses to sell it, thus the Church lets the poor starve.

It’s a noble complaint, but the reality is this: The Church’s wealth comes from the poor. What people miss when they speak of “The Catholic Church” — and by it mean a few cardinals, bishops, and a Pope — is that the Catholic Church is made up of every Catholic, rich and poor alike. Thus the upkeep and general wealth of the Church comes from every member of the Church, rich and poor alike, giving to their respective dioceses. As a college student who has put his laughable dollar into the collection plate more than twice, I can attest to this fact.

But most importantly — and this really is my point here — the wealth of the Church exists for the edification and benefit of every Catholic. Cathedrals are not solely for bishops. A throne exists for more than the man sitting on it. It is a certain nasty pride that tells the man suffering from poverty that the Beauty surrounding him — be he a homeless man appreciating the cool of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, or a Haitian saying prayers in the Cathédrale St. Jacques et St. Philippe — that it should all be torn down, sold, and given to him in the form of money. It is an offense to say, “this golden tabernacle you kneel before — it should be melted for bread.” The poor man in this position would do well to tell his just-escaped-the-Internet friend the truth that “man does not live on bread alone.”

Faulting the Cathedrals and Basilicas of the world for containing “too much” wealth is an awkward denial of the fact that the Cathedrals and Basilicas of the world are explicitly for the use of the poor, and to steal from them is to steal — not merely from the Church — but from the poor themselves, who — despite the perceptions of Hollywood — do not merely need bread, cash and contraception, but beauty, ritual, and God as well.

Make sense? The visible wealth — the very stuff that sets people complaining — is for the poor.

But surely the cardinals and Popes are rolling in it. Right? I can’t speak for the entire world, but the average salary of an American bishop is 23,ooo dollars a year, about half the average American’s. The average priest’s is 40,000 dollars a year, only 20,000 of which is actually “take home cash”. And if you’re the Pope, not only does your salary suck, but you don’t get it until you’re dead. Pope’s get one gold, silver and copper coin for each year of service placed on their coffin. Blessed John Paul II received about $141 dollars.

In my next post, I’ll be writing on why it’s entirely natural for human beings, in the sight of this sort of humility, to give it the best we have to offer — to house humility in temples of gold.

  • musiciangirl591

    good article, to sell the beauty of our Churches is to sell our history for things of the world which will not last (i saw that on facebook, i can’t take credit for that)

  • AMoniqueOcampo

    Thank you for bringing up a very topical argument. I seriously can’t stand people who criticize the Catholic Church for having “lavish” churches when Protestant mega-churches (coughJOELOSTEENcough) are left alone. Can’t wait for Part 2!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angelo-Ocampo/100000081911147 Angelo Ocampo

      Or mosques. Then again, the anti-Catholic loves to nothing more and lives for nothing except anti-Catholicism.

    • Steve

      I dont know what you are talking about, the Catholic church is definitely NOT the only one that comes under fire for this. To think otherwise would be foolish and ignorant.

    • Will

      All churches should be modest. All churches should not spend the money given to them to “gussy” up their buildings. A house fit for God would be a house for man, as man was created in God’s image. I certainly don’t need gold plated everything, marble floors, and fine persian rugs everywhere.

    • Alexandra

      This is such BS.

      Ask anyone who criticizes the Church for their lavish churches, and I’m certain they’d condemn the mega-churches and prosperity gospel as well. Any sort of hypocrisy in the wealth of faiths.

      This is such a lame dodge.

  • http://twitter.com/KiaraPirola Kiara Pirola

    Well… even if we did to sell off all the gold in the church, who could afford to buy it? 2000 years of priceless historical artifacts, edifices and land, not even Bill Gates could afford the Vatican, let alone the upkeep! :S

    • musiciangirl591

      good point, never thought about that

      • http://twitter.com/_Kay_xxx Kay Higgins

        Not a good point- the church preaches that we should look after the poor; those rich people who’d be buying the artefacts are probably not the type to preach that.

        • musiciangirl591

          sorry…. i haven’t been sleeping alot

    • Alexandra

      The Church has a lot of wealth that isn’t just priceless artifacts, art, and beautiful buildings.

      I can absolutely appreciate the need to protect and curate these things, but the Church has massive amounts of wealth besides that, and that’s ridiculous.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506549838 Jonathan Augustine Stute

        you mean like the vast amount of , hospitals and orphanages? not to mention fisheyes, hosting projects, soup kitchens, homeless shelters our leper colonies? the church sure does have a lot of but no cardinal takes lapis in his cash laden swimming pool. the churchs money is largely tied up in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

        • Alexandra

          No like the giant bank accounts, massive amounts of land, and reserves of gold. There’s no denying this stuff exists. Not all of it is being used for charity and good works.

          That’s just the nature of having a huge institution. Sometimes there’s some waste and corruption. I’d think that the Catholics would be the first to admit that this exists and not try to defend it.

          The Church does plenty of good, but that doesn’t mean that it’s immune from human corruption.

          • Mr. X

            If you’re going to run a lot of schools and hospitals, you’re going to need lots of bank accounts, land and gold reserves, otherwise you’ll just go bankrupt.

          • Steve

            and they would probably have even MORE money if they did not spend so much on making their churches excessively ornate

          • Believerin GTB

            Hi Steve, I am a Catholic living in India and most of our Churches are exactly what you describe – simple with 4 walls and some seats. Having been blessed enough to travel to the ‘excessively ornate’ (as you put it) Cathedrals and Churches in Germany and France, I tell you frankly that while I can worship our awesome God well enough in the ‘simple’ Church, worshipping Him in the stunning Cathedrals and Churches added another dimension altogether. Made me hungrier for deeper communion with God because I could immediately experience the beauty that Marc always talks about. The beauty I experienced then is as vivid today as it was a year ago and I would rather worship and glorify God in that splendour than in a concrete structure (not saying that the simple Churches are ‘not good enough’. Hope you understand the point I am trying to make).
            Maybe you do not seek such beauty in your life when you attend Mass or spend time in a Church (I am assuming you are a Catholic) but please, many of us do and NEED it. So, please do not take away the ornateness from the Churches that have them.
            Besides, who decides what is ‘excessively’ ornate for glorifying God. Is anything beautiful we create for the glory of God ever excessive?! Its for His glory and we do not hold back when we glorify Him.

          • Reply to Alex

            How else do you endow and support vast amount of schools, hospitals and orphanages–and colleges?

          • Steve

            perhaps by selling the unnecessary gold and silver that line the church walls and using that money to help support vast amounts of schools, hospitals and orphanages and colleges.

          • Will

            It’s a church for Christ’s sake. It should try to refuse and push out corruption as much as possible.

          • Cal-J

            Shame on the dislikes here; Alexandra makes a good point. The Church does have access to a large degree of human goods, including money and land. The Church is also run by human beings (the protection of God is against human foulups, including those on the inside), so human’s natural sinfulness plays a part in its operation.

            Now then, as has been pointed out, the existence of wealth does not strictly equate to excess and decadence. A poster named Patrick, below (or above, maybe; Patheos’ combox gives me a headache), makes an excellent point when he points out that A) that the gold, jewelry, and ornate designs are precious tools that we offer for the worship of God and that B) building a beautiful church and helping the poor (whom often donate their own wealth for part A) are not mutually exclusive propositions.

          • Alexandra

            I knew I didn’t entirely hate you, Cal.

            The dislikes totally gross me out. I mean seriously, do I need to pull out the sex abuse scandals? The Church is a human institution and there is corruption there like anywhere else. Trying to pretend that there is not significant amounts of waste or corruption that should be condemned is totally ridiculous.

        • Steve

          still dont see how that justifies the ridiculous decadence of the churches and their decor displayed in the sample pics. You can very well run all those things while having simple, plain temples that are not coated in gold and silver, and not clothing your clergy in fine fancy robes. You dont need gold and frescos to make a church, just 4 walls and some seats.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506549838 Jonathan Augustine Stute

            A homeless person once said to me when I objected to the ornateness of the Catholic church ( back when I was protestant). Want to know what his response was? Well, maybe you don’t but I’ll tell you anyway. He said to me, “Kid, if it wasn’t for the Catholic Church people like me would never see beauty.” Like Marc reminds us in the blog “Man does not live on bread alone.” Life is more than staying warm and having a meal, we need beauty.

      • fritos

        Do some buildings need to be quite as ornate as they are, maybe not, but they show the true beauty and glory of God that’s for sure. ”
        So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” A church only needs 4 walls and some seats.. I’m curious, what does your house look like, your clothes, your car, do you need a car, what other things do you have that you don’t need? Maybe we should all stop complaining of the ornateness of Cathedrals that glorify God and look at what WE can do.

        • gradchica

          I think that definition of “need” is sadly lacking. Human beings need beauty. How different do you feel when living in a beautiful, pleasing to the eye home versus a plain-walled, cheaply constructed 4-walls-and-a-floor one? I think we saw how that type of utilitarian living affected people’s spirits in Eastern Europe and Russia under communism–everyone had what they “needed”, but beauty and ornamentation was anathema. I’ve heard, and read, many accounts of how living in that atmosphere broke people’s spirits. That is why my hometown library lent out paintings as well as books, bc the librarians and the town council recognized that people, even poor people, need beautiful things to look at. Beauty lifts us up, both every day and when we are really down, sick, hurt, or in need of inspiration. We don’t “need” music, but we know–even scientifically–that listening to music changes our mood and makes us happier. This is how we are programmed to respond to beauty.

          This is also why many older public buildings are beautiful, like the national and state capitols. They only “need” to be the cheapest, boxiest, utilitarian building imaginable to function. Should they get rid of their marble and beautiful paintings too? We need to be inspired, and architecture can do that.

          Plus, once the $ is spent from stripping these buildings of their beauty, it will be spent, and quickly. Then what is left? Ugly, functional buildings and only short-term material gains, with most people likely in the same boat they were before.

        • Emily

          Exactly! It’s also not about what a Church *needs*! It’s the idea of Beauty for Beauty’s sake (which is of course, for God’s sake, being that He is Beauty, Truth and Goodness) and we shouldn’t have to have another reason! This beauty is built by donations – which also come from the poor!

          As a poor student, I can still always find money to give to whatever Church I’m in on that Sunday, because I know that it goes to good (and I don’t need to eat any more chocolate than I do, so saving me from myself, as it were).

          At my home parish, every year our Priest gives every parishioner a copy of the year’s finance, what money came it, where it came from, and precisely what it got spent on. It costs money to upkeep an old building! And since the state is separate from the Church, who else but the parishioners is going to help?

          In regards to other forms of charity, giving to the Church collection plate doesn’t exempt you from giving other types of aid, be it volunteering, giving money or other. :)

    • gannic

      Also whoever asks you why the church doesn’t sell all its wealth reply him by asking him what is stopping the potential buyers to give their money directly as charity instead of buying artistic artifacts

  • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

    I would like to point out that the first graphic depicts something that is(most likely) not true. Unless those Cardinals are part of an Order, they probably didn’t make a vow of poverty.

    • http://twitter.com/byzcathwife priest’s wife

      yes- I believe that secular priests make a ‘promise of simplicity’ very different than a vow (but again- none of these riches are theirs)

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.williams.9809 Alexander Williams

    I used to have thoughts similar to this (not as strong though), but this article did give some insight that I was not quite seeing. Thank you

  • Manny

    I was just thinking about this very issue the other day. I think you answered it quite well. It certainly was helpful to me.

  • Olivier

    Small typo in the third to last sentence — Popes instead Pope’s. Nice arguments though :)

  • Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    I’ve always wondered why we never see anyone complaining about the massive amounts of money that many Protestant churches spend on stereo systems. Even those have their purpose-especially if that purpose is to draw people into the church so that they, in turn, will be compelled to give to the poor,

    • Inglip

      You don’t because you’re not looking. There are plenty of people who are just as outraged about the fact that Benny Hinn owns a $36M private jet that costs $600K a year to maintain.

    • drama_mama

      speaking as a non denominational believer,I’m not at all impressed with extravagance and shows of wealth in ANY denominations building. Top of the line sound and light systems, larger newer showier buildings, pastors with limo service— it’s a sham. There’s a temple– then there’s a building to meet in for service. The latter should be frugal and leave money for things that further the kingdom of heaven.
      I doubt we will one day be standing around in our spiritual bodies bemoaning the fact that our church building back on earth didn’t have high enough ceilings or premium acoustics.
      No! we will be sorrowful that the gospel did not reach more people!

  • Inglip

    Are you !@#$ing serious? There are millions of people LITERALLY
    DYING every year around the world because they don’t have enough to eat. Please, go tell
    them that “man does not live on bread alone” and that they’re getting plenty of “spiritual benefit” from the Pope’s gold throne. I’m sure that’ll be a HUGE
    relief to them.

    There’s a real world outside your ivory tower. Where people get sick and die from hunger, thirst, and easily treatable medical conditions… you know, things that are relatively cheap, but that the Catholic church deems less important than holding onto its earthly wealth.

    Do you have any idea how amazingly arrogant it is to blog on the Internet and downplay poverty, hunger, and sickness from the comfort of your heated first-world home with running water, easy access to food, and 911 on call if you get sick?

    • musiciangirl591

      what about the Catholic organizations who set up missions in Africa to feed the hungry? my college’s old campus minister was in Africa and helped set up missions there (he was shot down over the Sudan back in the 70′s and survived but thats a story for another day)….

      • Inglip

        I have nothing against private organizations that help the needy, regardless of their religious affiliation.

        • musiciangirl591

          i pose this question to you, what are you doing to help children in Africa?

          • Inglip

            I donate to groups that have the specific goal of helping people in need.

            I do not donate to groups that use food/medical/other aid as a vehicle for converting people to a religion.

            But if it keeps people from dying, I don’t oppose the latter.

          • musiciangirl591

            uh….. most of the world’s help organizations are religiously based? one of my friends is actually in Africa right now

          • Inglip

            Do you have a source for that? (I don’t actually know how many aid organizations are religious/non-religious – I’m interested to know if that’s true or not.)

            Anyways, I respect people like your friend who are willing to actually go out and make an active difference in the world, regardless of their motivations.

            That said… you most certainly don’t need religion to care about the condition of your fellow man.

          • musiciangirl591

            well, he’s Catholic… and wants to be a teacher… and he was looking to go into the Seminary…. so there’s something there

          • Inglip

            But there are plenty of people who go over (and I know several of them) to Africa and “walk the walk” not because the Pope or the Bible told them to, but because they genuinely care about other people.

            Kiva. UNICEF. Doctors Without Borders. The Red Cross. The list goes on.

            As I said, regardless of someone’s motivation, I will appreciate the work they do… but there are plenty of people who do it because it needs doing, not because they feel obligated by religion.

          • musiciangirl591

            he also went to the DR to help with the children, loved it there, went to Africa, from what i’ve heard is doing good with the children there and i hope to hear what he has to say about his missionary work in Africa :P

          • Eve

            I’m sorry…is your point that other people care not just the religious…cause I got lost back there somewhere….

          • ElizabethAnn

            The Red Cross is Christian (Protestant, but still Christian). Also, even though Kiva, UNICEF, and Doctors Without Borders are secular, many members of those organizations are motivated by their faith.
            While it may be possible for a person to help others without being motivated by religion, it happens less often.

          • Alexandra

            The American Red Cross does not have a faith affiliation.

            And people without faiths give just as often as people with faith if you don’t count contributions to churches. There’s just less people without faith to start with.

          • TX Flamethrower

            I think you’re missing the point of the article. Catholic Charities is the world’s largest charitable organization – it feeds, clothes, provides medical and legal help, and visits the imprisoned. It helps people find employment. It helps bury the dead and consoles the mourners. In short, as an organization, it does all of the things Jesus commands we do as Catholic Christians. The beauty of the architecture, art, and aesthetics of the physical Churches give respite to the weary – including the poor. The soul and heart need art and beauty to be able to reflect and re-charge. And because the Catholic Church DOES provide so much to so many, we can appreciate not only her inner, generous beauty but also her outer, aesthetic beauty.

          • Frances Uhomoibhi

            and your proof that certain aids groups use food, etc as a vehicle for converting people to a religion is what exactly? Also, I’m sure you are yourself living in a cardboard box on the street with no new smart phone, or nice new clothing as a result of all that you give to the starving children in Africa?

        • Arnorian

          The catholic church is the largest charitable organization in the world. So to criticize the church weather you believe in the need for the riches they possess or not is in direct conflict with that last statement.

          • TX Flamethrower

            No, it’s not. The Catholic Church does more than just ‘social justice’. She is also commanded to provide pastoral care and sacraments to her faithful. Through the parishioner’s offerings, the Church provides many different services. If she chooses to use some of those offerings to beautify the community, that’s her choice. And, by the way, it’s “whether”, not “weather”.

        • Tommy B.

          That you’ve donated some money to the poor isn’t the point (obviously the Church does that too). Have you eliminated from your life everything that isn’t strictly necessary, and spent ALL that money on the poor? I don’t know, you could be in sack cloth and barefoot and using a PC at the Library near the park bench you live on, so I’m asking. But if not: just shut up!

          I’m sorry but that’s all the depth of response your little ‘thoughts’ deserve.

    • http://twitter.com/desiretoimitate Jennifer Eklund

      Obviously, you’re on your computer, so you have electricity, technology like a computer, and plenty of money to share as well. It’s true that “man does not live on bread alone,” and I bet if you ask any Catholic, rich or poor, they wouldn’t trade the Bread of Life in the tabernacle for a loaf of bread. Sometimes, it’s not this world that everyone’s concerned about…

    • TechMage89

      You have, once again, completely missed the point. It’s laughable to say that that the Church does nothing in the face of poverty; it’s the largest charitable organization in the world, that by most measures does more for the the poor even in terms of material support than any other organization globally!

      Furthermore, all the “riches” of the Church would hardly be a drop in the bucket against the poverty that exists. Add on top of this that poverty is more often a political than economic issue (i.e. people are poor because their governments keep them that way, not because the wealth isn’t available), and there’s little good the Church can do that it isn’t already doing.

      The point is that the poor need more than food, more than clothing, more than shelter. They need, as we all need, spiritual riches more than material. Have you ever been to a poor country? I’m not rich by U.S. standards, but I’d happily give up the even the wealth I have to have the happiness some people much poorer than myself have.

      Ultimately, the point is that these Churches point to something transcendent, they are works of art and architecture intended to uplift the souls of those rich and poor alike. They do not belong to priests or bishops, but to the whole Church, including, perhaps especially, to the poor. There are things more important than food in the stomach, just as there are things worse than the death of the body. Just ask the martyrs.

      • Inglip

        The Catholic church is not a charitable organization. It may take credit for the charitable works of others, and induce some people to perform them, but the church itself is not.

        • musiciangirl591

          then who pays for the missions in the poorest countries?

        • TX Flamethrower

          Um, yes it is.

        • Eve

          The church IS the people.

          • Lena

            Yes! Eve, you hit the nail on the head. Thank you!

        • James H, London

          Examples, please?

          Your statement is plain daft. If Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity tend the poorest of the poor, is that, or is it not, the church taking care of the poor?

    • drama_mama

      Yeah… in that context the “bread alone” verse kinda comes off like “let them eat cake”….

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angelo-Ocampo/100000081911147 Angelo Ocampo

      Suppose the Catholic Church were to do as you say and all that. Do you think it last?

    • Foster

      They don’t have enough to eat not for a lack of physical resources in their countries, but because their governments are corrupt, keep them ignorant and divert the resources away from them. Giving the poor of these countries food and resources, which the church already does in abundance, cannot in itself solve the problems involved. To solve them, the Church would have to go in and overthrow the bad governors, which we are unwilling to do for obvious reasons. Preserving and defending what is true and beautiful and proclaiming it in their architecture, the Church may do more to save the starving of Africa and Haiti than we know, because they give hope for a brighter future and perhaps one day the resolve to fight against the tyrants that oppress them. Even by your poor pragmatic measure, beauty has value to spur people to action. You should be spending your energy criticizing the governments of these nations, not those who already do so much to help the people they exploit.

  • Guest

    Everyone should check out the Book of Exodus, where God outlines how He wants His dwelling to look. Every Catholic church is God’s house, and should be given the respect it’s due…

    • Steve

      Sounds like a greedy god if he requires wealth to be poured into the making of his temples.

  • http://twitter.com/desiretoimitate Jennifer Eklund

    Everyone who has trouble with how ornate the Catholic Church’s cathedrals and basilicas are needs to double check the book of Exodus. God’s pretty specific on how He wants His dwelling to look, and I can tell you, it wasn’t bare-bones. Shouldn’t God’s dwelling place be the most beautiful place we can make it?

    • Steve

      it does not have to be wrapped in gold to be beautiful.

    • Will

      Don’t bring the Old Testament into this. Whenever I try to argue the Old Testament with you all, I get the counter-argument that the New Testament counteracted some of those things said. But for controversial things that don’t have a corresponding “cancellation” by Jesus, you have no answer. If you cite the OT for this, then you must believe everything else in the OT.

  • Sarah M

    While I agree with your post, it needs much more addressing. I can understand the anger against wealth. The beauty of the Cathedrals and other Catholic Churches is a thing for all. That is true. But many make this argument and stop there. Or maybe mention that the Church does more for the poor then any other organization. Also, true. However, as a faithful lay Catholic who has been more involved with social justice (the good kind) since graduating college, I wish we talked more about what we (as in young faithful Catholic lay people) can do to help the poor. Many of us, either don’t know what we can do, or we think that it is the calling of religious and not us. We talk about it so defensively.

    Our inspirational newer saints, like Mother Teresa and Pier Giorgio Frassati had deep love for the poor. Why don’t we talk about this more? This is our heritage, our inspiration.

    In your last post you said that you wanted to not simplify our faith to partisan politics.I think that we as Catholic lay people shy away from really talking about how to engage social issues, especially those related to poverty, because we associate it with a liberal agenda. Instead of claiming it as our task, not the government’s.

    • TechMage89

      I agree that we need to emphasize social justice more at the parish level. That’s where it’s really essential, where we can really engage with those who are poor and needy, where we can really see the needs of these people up close, and not just give at a distance.

      The thing is, these things are part of an integral whole. We strive for social justice because of what we believe about a transcendent God. So please, keep the grand art and architecture to remind us of heaven and keep the social justice to remind us what it means we must do.

      • Sarah M

        That’s why I mentioned the saints. They did it all. I think many people do not understand how many of the churches and Cathedrals came to be. They were labors of love by craftsmen, in many places the same people who worshiped in them. It’s just that I’ve seen countless blogs, books and talks going over and over this point, but nothing really truly challenging us as Catholic lay people in this area.

        Your admonishment is a classic example of the assumption and fear that a Catholic who talks about social justice is in risk of losing the vertical dimension of their faith. Which unfortunately is true of many, lets change that.

        • lukedehon

          I would just like to say i am very glad that you are both spiritual devout and to social justice that is in line with the Catholic Church. but Beside that not everyone within the Catholic Church is called to the ministry of the poor. there are a lot of injustices in the world, like the poor, the pornography industry, slavery, abortion, the death penalty, and to many to list here. and i agree that a lot of people don’t talk about social justice because they dont think they can do anything, and one of the major reasons they dont think they can do anything is because of how many there are and how daunting they can be looked at all together. luckily we are not all called to the same injustice, we are called to fight injustice that God calls us to. and lastly we must always remember that though loving those suffering from injustice in what ever form that takes, from material relief or spiritual relief, our spiritual life must be put first, we can not give truly without the love of God in our hearts.

          Much Love, God Bless and may you continue to love the Poor.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angelo-Ocampo/100000081911147 Angelo Ocampo

      It’s sad that some of the people who lead the accusation nowadays are members of the Occupy Movement. And they’re no minority within the movement, either.

    • gradchica

      While I agree that social justice and feeding the poor are important to our mission as Christians, I think we should also remember that the Church’s primary mission is to save souls and preach the gospel, that Jesus died and rose again to gain for us eternal life. I actually think we hear more about feeding the poor than we do about the importance of the sacraments and how to grow in personal holiness. The Church’s social mission is important, but it counts for little if we feed people but don’t help them–both the poor we feed and those of us Catholics doing the feeding–know and love Jesus and get to heaven.

      A beautiful church emphasizes heaven as our true home. The Mass is the source and summit of our faith, of our Church, and the church buildings are our attempt to create a suitable space for heaven to meet earth, as it does in the Mass. Beautiful buildings help our minds to leave the mundane behind each Mass and enter heaven more fully as we join our voices to those of the choirs of angels and saints.

      • gradchica

        I know you’re not necessarily saying this, and I am not trying to put words into your mouth. I have, however, encountered a number of very active, very pro-social-justice people in my own recent parishes who only ever talk about social justice work, to the detriment of nearly everything else, as if we as a church existed soley as a force for social justice.

        • AttentionDeficitCatholic

          Balance in all things. It is amazing how much Catholic philosophy can be seen as a balance of things, and this is one; if we truly love God, we will help those in need; if we help those in need, we will grow in love of Him. Spreading the Gospel, glorifying God in our works and gifts, and helping our neighbor are not (and should not be) mutually exclusive; they are things which can and should enlarge and enrich each other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GabyCarnogursky Gaby Carnogursky

    “While Jesus was in Bethany, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

    • GG

      what verse is this?

      • gannic

        Mt 26, 6-13

    • poundcake

      as a side note, John lists the complaining disciple as Judas, and explains that Judas didn’t really care about the poor, he just wanted to ‘steal from the collection plate’, hahaha.

    • Steve

      I dont see the connection between preparing Jesus’ body for burial and decadent churches. Jesus said in that quote “You will not always have me”, and if you take the Bible literally then that is true; Jesus is no longer here in the physical sense that they were talking about in that verse. So….. how does this have anything to do with covering churches with gold and silver? Its a verse about preparing Jesus’ physical body for burial, not about decking out his temples in precious metals.

      • Kristen inDallas

        What most fail to grasp is that it’s not just gold for the sake of gold. It’s stained glass windows depicting the saints letting sunlight through which reflects of the bits of gold or poilshed marble and into the eyes of every person entering the church. It’s art, see. It’s free art that anyone, of any status is welcome to look upon. Just look around you, how long do you think we’ll have art? Free art? Especially if the church were to abandon it. My grandfather was one of the last proffesional stone crafters in his area (the artist type, not the pre-fab construction type)… you know how he made his living? A few city gardens (that charge about $10/ a head to enter) and mostly restoration of old churches. I hear there are still a few poor people in France… should they sell the mona lisa to a private collection to feed some people for a few years? What happens in a decade when there are still hungry people, but there’s no more Mona Lisa, what happens in a few decades when there’s nothing beautiful left at all? Maybe a better approach is a donation jar at the foot of the mona lisa, asking viewers while they are most inspired, to donate what they can to help feed the poor, so that we don’t have to pawn off this precious work to do the same… you know, kind of like the offering plate that is passed around at EVERY CATHOLIC MASS for the same purpose.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kara.crennan Kara Crennan

        Since catholics believe that Christ is physically present through the eucharist (because we do take what jesus says literally(john chapter 6))then that scripture does apply. We believe that he is dwelling in our churches. Does he not deserve a house of Gold? Do the poor not deserve a place where they can go to worship and feel like they are part of royalty?

        Another note, Catholics take to heart the saying “give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” The catholic church promotes getting people OUT of pverty by teaching them skills and sending missionaries, not just throwing money at them and then ignoring their most essential needs, which are to be loved and respected.

        • Lena

          I completely agree. As I said before, money does not and will not solve the problems as this article suggests.

      • Heather

        But Jesus IS physically with us, but only in a Catholic Church where the Eucharist is present. That’s the other reason why we focus on presenting our churches with things that are precious – to help us remember that the space we are in is sacred, it houses the -real- physical presence of God.

        God communicates to man through his senses, and thus we use sight, sound, smell, taste, and tough to communicate the sacramentality of our faith.

        As well, if we’re worried about the bishops or the churches having too much, I believe there are a LOT more of us than of them, and by our own sacrifice, we would achieve much much more for the poor, than for the Catholic Church to strip its churches of art and liturgical items, only to feed the poor for a fleeting moment. It is the church that welcomes humanity into an encounter with Christ, so that WE may exit and meet our brothers and sisters with that love that Christ gives us, and meet their spiritual AND physical needs as best we can.

      • Felini

        The churches, regardless of whether they are large or small, have always been built from the contributions of those peoples who desired to honor God and build Him a house in which they could worship Him. The majority of those benefactors have always been the poor. The size of the church depended on the number of contributors more than the size of each donation. Since it was a house for God, they chose the best to furnish it and yes, Jesus is there physically with every Mass and every Eucharistic adoration.

  • thebackoftheworld

    This reminds me of the account in St. John’s Gospel of Mary anointing our Lord’s feet with expensive nard… we are called to do our utmost for the poor; that is non-negotiable. But we are also called to the beautiful worship of our God.

    • msmischief

      Jesus praised the widow who gave money to the support of the temple, too.

    • Cal-J

      Is your name a Chesterton/Sunday reference?

  • Alexandra

    You know what really made me mad? Back when I was a Catholic kid, the Cathedral in San Jose spent a ridiculous amount of money and had a wall moved to make it bigger so that they it would qualify as a Cathedral Basilica. They spent a crapton of money on this, and it just disgusted me.

    There was nothing wrong with the Cathedral, it was beautiful. Why was it that the leaders of the congregation didn’t decide to funnel the money to something more concerned with social justice? The upgrades were purely cosmetic. Sure I can appreciate having beautiful places of worship, but there comes a point where enough is enough, and making it more lavish is a real statement about what your priorities are. And I think those priorities are lame.

    • musiciangirl591

      did you listen enough to see if they were collecting money for missions? my Church does that for our sister parish in latin america!

      • Sarah M

        That doesn’t mean a particular decision was justified. Our culture is incredibly materialistic. While it is important to have beautiful places of worship to honor God, that doesn’t mean that we don’t carry over our same materialism into how we administer our Churches, it’s something to guard against. We have to make sure our charitable donations aren’t just giving a bit of our excess to relieve our consciences.

        • musiciangirl591

          what about those expenses needed to keep the Church running, my home parish had some problems with the stained glass windows being ruined from rain and such, was it bad to get them repaired and re-installed?

          • Sarah M

            Why would getting repairs be materialism?

          • musiciangirl591

            i don’t know, they are really nice though :P

          • Sarah M

            well and that’s good…my point is more that lay people can have really bad attitudes about things. My parish had huge arguments about whether to have Spanish Mass for immigrants because ‘those people’ didn’t
            (supposedly) tithe. And we have a sister church in Haiti, there is just a huge disconnect. People think they are condescending to give ‘their’ money to people who don’t necessarily deserve it. Instead of seeing it as a way to love the God they honor on Sunday.

          • musiciangirl591

            well, we don’t have a Spanish mass because there really isn’t a demand for it :P (i live in PA, and i’m at a predominately German/Irish parish)

        • Alexandra

          Well said, Sarah.

        • Eusebius

          Funny that our modern-day materialistic culture produces churches like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/St._Joseph_Catholic_Church_(Plain_City,_Ohio),_interior_view_from_organ_loft,_decorated_for_Christmas.jpg

          While the impoverished peasants of the high middle ages produced churches like this: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=459531900753449&set=a.459531327420173.108543.100000899287769&type=3&theater

        • ColdStanding

          Roman Catholics do not relieve their consciences by “giving a bit of our excess”. No, we are called to go to the sacrament of confession, disclose our short comings, beg God for forgiveness, and show our sincerity by acts of penance.

          In addition, we are called upon to do good works, see the Epistle of St. James, but not out of guilt. No, good works are to be done with faith in Jesus Christ and love for our neighbor.

          Jesus Christ also specifically praised those that give not from their excess but from what little they had. Did you get that? Jesus says that by uniting our sacrifice, be whatever it is, with His wonders will be worked.

          • Sarah M

            “Jesus Christ also specifically praised those that give not from their excess but from what little they had. Did you get that?”

            um, isn’t that what I said? Definitely wasn’t talking about confession.

          • ColdStanding

            @6b2a1f16ad40342706a804eb08d4b8b3:disqus: I was responding to someone tagged: Sarah M. Are you Sarah M too?

  • Tyler

    I always thought the Church was not a physical building, but the Body of Christ, all the believers. And doesn’t the “flesh profit nothing”? I don’t want gold! I want CHRIST!

    • Nic

      The Church is not a physical building, but a physical establishment put in place by Christ as well as, yes, the Body of Christ.

      God made us flesh and spirit and it takes both to get to Him. Our churches (small c, the individual buildings themselves) are meant to lift us up to Heaven. They should be both worthy of honoring God and specifically designed to move us with our senses. The newer modern movement to make churches overly simplified or worse, multi-purpose, is to ignore that God has made us flesh and that our bodies assist us in all relationships, even with Christ.

      Also, this quote seems out of context. Jesus said this in explanation of telling his followers to eat his Body and Blood. If anything, it would seem confusing that he is now saying his flesh profits nothing. But St. Augustine explains: “Or thus, the flesh profits nothing. They had understood by
      His flesh, as it were, of a carcass, that was to be cut up, and sold in
      the shambles, not of a body animated by the spirit. Join the spirit to
      the flesh, and it profits much: for if the flesh profited not, the Word
      would not have become flesh, and dwelt among us. The Spirit has done
      much for our salvation, by means of the flesh.”

      • Steve

        If you need an ornately decorated church to “lift you up to heaven” then I think your spirituality and relationship with God must be rather weak

        • musiciangirl591

          thats really not what he’s getting at but ok…

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for this post. What about all the money celebrities waste, or the unnecessary shopping we do?What about all the money people waste in drugs, alcohol, abortions, etc( yes its possible and natural to live without these) If we accumulated all the money wasted on selfish reasons, we could probably save a country or two from starvation. The houses where Jesus is in were built by people who wanted to attempt to make the house fit for God. A basilica or cathedral is a sanctuary for the poor and rich. The basilica in Washington DC has visitors from all backgrounds and socioeconomic positions. When my dad was homeless in DC, he visited the basilica once a week because out of all the places in DC this one place reminded Him that God exists and wants a loving and active relationship with us. This place where Jesus lives gave my dad hope and strength. It is childish to accuse the Church for being hypocritical. Just because the mission trips to poor countries are not loudly broudcasted or exposed in the media doesnt mean that the Church is relishing in all the money FREELY given by the faithful. The Church asks for donations but does not tax the faithful.

    • Will

      So not taxing the faithful is how a lot of parochial schools do not offer parishioner rate to their students, unless their parents are envelope droppers at the school’s church?

      • fritos

        if they are not “envelope droppers” then how do they know if that person is a part of the Church? if you are a follower and a regular Church goer you pay less to go to a private school that teaches Catholicism. I don’t see what is wrong with that. I don’t believe they require a minimum for “envelope droppers” do they? (i don’t actually know for sure)

        • Stephanie

          In our diocese, we didn’t have a “parishioners rate”. I live in an area where there are a lot of Hispanic immigrants live below the poverty line and many of their children have been given scholarships to attend catholic school without requiring the parents or guardian to pay a “parishioners rate”. Ive gone to catholic school for 12 years and the Church clearly has its fair share of plausible solutions. It’s up to us to keep this up.

        • Will

          Since when did I have to sign in to attend a church? Why should Catholics have to pay more to send their child to Catholic school, than non-Catholics do. I mean it makes sense right? And yes, churches do have a minimum collection to be a “parishioner.”

          • Emily

            Um, which churches have *you* been going to? There really isn’t a minimum collection to be a parishioner! You don’t even have to give anything – it’s *voluntary*.

          • Will

            There’s a difference between being a visitor and parishioner. Which churches have you been going too is the better question? I’ve never been to a church that hasn’t had collections.

          • Emily

            The question isn’t whether or not a church has collections: all churches do. The question is whether or not you *have* to give to the collection. And you don’t, it’s voluntary.

            About becoming a parishioner vs visitor: all you have to do is fill out a form, which states where you live etc. This is so that you can still receive communion if you’re really ill – someone brings it to you. There’s no money involved. Maybe parishioners feel more inclined to give money to their church, because they’re part of the parish, but they do not *have* to donate. It’s called a donation for a reason!

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            My best friend is Jewish; she and her family must pay a hefty membership fee to her temple just to belong to the congregation. It’s based on household income but unfortunately fails to take into account the family’s expenses – it’s a large family so although it looks as though they are quite well off on paper, the membership is a hardship. While we have many collections – weekly, monthly maintenance, various other collections, we aren’t obliged to pay a membership. My particular parish has always been working class for the most part so I’m sure every month is a struggle to pay the bills.

          • Emily

            Maybe I should have specified that when I wrote ‘Churches’ I meant the Catholic ones, not the Jewish or other denominations’ ones.

      • musiciangirl591

        i went to Catholic school for 11 years and we didn’t have a parishoner’s rate….

  • EllaM

    I find the shortest explanation is this: One, everyone uses their gifts from God in different ways. Those who are carvers, jewelers, artists etc. over the centuries have used those gifts to glorify God in his Church. Second, if the Church were literally “poor” where would those in need go for food, shelter, clothing? While St. Clare and her group of hearty women begged daily and kept nothing extra, they still needed a place to sleep and over time donors built up their home. We, humanity, are not without faults. In a perfect world the rich would give more. However, Christ did say the poor would always be with us. Third, if you sell all the “priceless” works of art, gold, etc. you would eventually be left with nothing to sell. Last, would you ask Solomon to strip bare the Temple to feed the poor of Israel? People forget that what they see in Churches should be a reflection of the House of God. This is what makes me sad in my heart when I see the “reck-ovations” that took place in the 1970′s.

    • Steve

      This makes no sense, it can still be the ‘House of God’ if it is a little less ornately decorated. Do you think God cares that you have gold and jewels all over your temple?

      • martin

        It’s not that He cares, because you’re right, He doesn’t. But that’s not the point. The point is that God deserves our absolute best (read the Old Testament). He doesn’t care for His own sake, because He’s God. He cares for our own sake, because what does that say about the person holding back their talents from God… read the gospels and the parables… it doesn’t end well. The vast majority of the works of art and the riches that the Church has amassed in it’s 2000 year history is precisely from people giving their all to God in the form of their talents or their treasures.

        So, yes it can still be the House of God if it’s a little less ornate, however if you have the capability to give more, you should. That’s explicit throughout all of the bible, that God deserves our very best, to give ’till it hurts. He doesn’t care for His sake necessarily that the we have jewels and gold all over HIS temple, but He does care for our sake.

        that’s not to mention the theological implications and reasons for having the ornateness and the numerous practical reasons…

    • musiciangirl591

      that happened to my parish way back in the day, the congregation pitched a fit at the pastor, because they liked the church the way it was

  • Cathryn

    St. Lawrence of Rome, my friends…

    He was in charge of the Church’s wealth after the execution of the pope during a time of Christian persecution, and had been told by the Roman authorities to bring it to his own execution. Instead, he brought the TRUE wealth of the church: the poor, the sick, the crippled. As for the material wealth, he gave that to the poor and ensured the safety of the Church’s documents. He is know for saying, as he was being grilled to death, “turn me over, I’m done on this side.”

    The lesson: sure, we have gold and such. But the poor are our true wealth. Yes, our places of worship are majestically adorned with the finer things. But the finest of all is the temple inside each member (and non-member) of Holy Mother Church. For as much money is given to the Church of stone, far more is given to the Church of living stones.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angelo-Ocampo/100000081911147 Angelo Ocampo

      Can someone do a St. Lawrence of Rome to the Occupiers? Just a thought.

    • Steve

      This does not justify anything. You still have unnecessary wealth. Valuing poor people’s contribution to the church does not lower the $ value of the church’s vanity.

      • msmischief

        How do you have access to the internet after giving all you own to the poor?

        • musiciangirl591

          nice one :P

  • Pat

    Dorothy Day, who walked this fine line beautifully, has always been helpful to me:

    “For Christ himself, housed in the tabernacles in the Church no magnificence is too great, but for the priest who serves Christ, and for the priesthood of the laity, no such magnificence, in the face of hunger and homelessness of the world, can be understood.”

    So beautiful and so true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angelo-Ocampo/100000081911147 Angelo Ocampo

    You sir, had just demolished the whining of the Occupantywastes!

    • Allison

      No he didn’t. Just made himself look stupid and desperate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joel-Penley/543252821 Joel Penley
  • Stephanie

    As Arcade Fire puts it “you say it’s money that we need as if we are only mouths to feed”

  • Allison

    The biggest thing you miss is HOW the church got the poor’s money.

    What didn’t happen:

    Poor: “Oh hey, Church. Umm, I was gonna buy meat and shoes this month
    for my family, but because you’re so great, you have the money instead.
    Clearly you can be more responsible with it and find better uses for the
    cash.”

    What actually happened:

    Church: “I’m just
    gonna go ahead and keep y’all illiterate so you can’t actually READ the
    bible, and also I’ma gonna say the mass in a language you don’t even
    know! MMkay? And then, I’m gonna just go ahead and threaten you with
    eternal hellfire if you don’t give me your money. So that I can cover my
    walls with gold. Cool?”

    You ACTUALLY think that the ostentatious churches were FOR the poor? Come on.

    • David Bates

      Are you suggesting…

      1. The Church has purposefully kept people illiterate throughout the centuries

      How did they achieve this? By setting up all those schools and education institutions?

      2. Amassed great wealth from the poor

      How’s that meant to work? Do the poor have lands and great art to donate to the Church? If you’re gonna amass wealth from somewhere, I’d suggest that the *rich* is a good place to start…

  • anschauung

    The salary of US Bishops probably make closer to $120k — the exact number isn’t published, but that would be in line with Bishop salaries in other groups.

    In either case, the link to simplyhired.com is junk. That’s a number spit out by an algorithm that doesn’t have any data to work with — for example, did you know that the average salary of a unicorn is $49k? http://www.simplyhired.com/a/salary/search/q-unicorn

    • Steve

      Its good to know that if my career plans fail me, I can always be a unicorn instead. Thanks.

      • ColdStanding

        What would you use for a horn? The one in your car?

    • Tom

      What do you mean by “other groups”? Other non-Catholic groups? Why does what they get paid matter?

  • Allison

    Wow. My comment got deleted? How intellectually honest of you!

    • Allison

      Oh. Never mind.

  • SocialTexture

    No, it’s not that the church “has gold but doesn’t sell it”. That’s an extremely misleading characterization of the criticisms expressed about the enormous wealth of the church. The issue is the ludicrous hypocrisy of supposedly promoting a document (the Bible) and a philosophy (the teachings of Jesus) that speak so deeply to caring for the weakest and poorest among us, taking action to correct injustice, and renouncing all material wealth in order to live a rich and fulfilling spiritual and communal life — yet the church does the exact oppose of what it tells the rest of us to do, even going so far as to crush the Liberation Theology movement in Latin America in the 1980s because it promoted the preferential option for the poor (which Ratzinger, now the pope, was charged with and succeeded in carrying out by demonizing it as “marxist” to struggle on the side of the poor), and supporting power and privilege throughout the world ever since Constantine made Christianity a state religion and perverted the meaning of the cross by placing it on the shields of his soldiers, turning a symbol of love and suffering into a symbol of brutality. (More recently, the church openly supported Franco and Mussolini’s fascist dictatorships in return for land and official state religion status, for just one of all too many significant examples.)
    Members of the faith could advocate that the church should go back to the teachings (i.e., the gospels) that it was founded upon, which would go a long way towards reducing the hypocrisy that so many rightly point out, or they could participate in continuing to undermine those teachings by supporting the church in its current incarnation, for example writing ludicrous and misleading power-worshipping propaganda like this. The point is, they have a choice.

    • Steve

      very nice comment

    • ColdStanding

      Are you a real person or just a random boiler-plate catholic bashing ‘bot?

      • SocialTexture

        Would you like to respond to anything specific that I said? I can’t really comment otherwise.

        • ColdStanding

          No, even though I have the time, it is just such a pastiche of commonplaces, misunderstandings, and non-sense that it is best just to toss it out and ‘fugget about it.

          • SocialTexture

            Let’s assume that you’re not simply dismissing what I wrote in order to avoid the issues that were raised, and that if you wanted to address the issues, that you are able to present the understanding, logic, and evidence to counter the points that were raised. I hope that those are safe assumptions, and that me assuming the best of you conveys respect and dignity to you.

            Starting there, I have to ask, is it possible that what I wrote is “commonplace” because, perhaps, it is correct? I realize that I didn’t provide a lot of the background and build up a really good case for what I presented — I hope you’ll excuse my lack of time to do so, and that the format doesn’t really lend itself to that kind of attention and detail. Still, perhaps my criticisms seem common to you because they’re reasonable, or even because they’re true and widely recognized outside of particular circles. Is that possible? If you say “no,” that’s fine, but you also have to say *why.* “No” isn’t enough, and I would guess that you don’t often allow others to dismiss your comments out-of-hand, without consideration, and with such rudeness and disdain.

            If I have “misunderstood” something, then please, point out where I’m wrong. That would be very kind of you, and I would appreciate it. I’m not wed to my views and try, constantly, to embrace other points of view and other facts I hadn’t previously considered. I’m also very much aware that I see the world in a particular way, and sometimes certain facts that challenge or seriously destabilize the way I see things just get ignored, or disregarded, or aren’t given proper consideration. (In other words, if the fact doesn’t fit the frame, it’s often the fact that gets rejected, not the frame.)

            The same goes for if I’m spouting “non-sense” — please, explain. I’d be quite happy to admit I’m wrong if you show me that I am.

          • ColdStanding

            That’s better. Not better in the sense that I agree with what you said. No. Better in that at least you have focused and written something with order and editing. Still on the passive-aggressive side of things, but, no matter. You are awake now.

            Now, to business.

            Commonplaces is used in the sense of banality. You criticisms are banal. Common. Run of the mill. Boiler plate. Off the shelf. Knee jerk. Which means, even though it says “critical analysis” on the package, there is no actual criticism inside, just spew, anger, and arms-lengthing from the Holy Church. It is like you are treading water and won’t dive down to figure out what’s happening below the surface. Hey, it’s your life & if that is what you want to do with your intellectual gifts, it’s a waste, but what will my words do to change that? I’m good, but that’s a tall order for a combox.

            You complain about my saying no and then not explaining. But I did explain why I said no. I repeat: “it is just such a pastiche of commonplaces, misunderstandings, and non-sense that it is best just to toss it out and ‘fugget about it.” That is the explanation.

            Example of nonsense: “the church in it’s current incarnation” The Holy Roman Catholic Church has never died so as to be able to re-incarnate.

            Example of nonsense: Bringing up Mussolini and not having the slightest clue about the previous, bare minimum for context, 100 years of politics on the Italian peninsula.

            Example of nonsense: Placing Constantine and Liberation Theology within 50 words of each other. You are just jumping all over the place and grabbing at every and any boogie man you can find. That’s boiler-plating. That’s nonsense.

          • SocialTexture

            Ok, you’ve written a lot, but you still haven’t said much about anything that I’ve said. Instead, you’ve said a lot of demeaning and insulting things, and I don’t know why. Is it because I’ve pointed out things that are, basically, just historical facts — making them difficult to speak to? I could see that, but really, I have no idea why you feel the need to insult, to strike out, to react so strongly. It seems to be more about you and your relationship to the church than it has anything to do with me or what I’ve said, if I had to take a guess. If, again, you had reasonably addressed anything I had written, which doesn’t include outright dismissals, then I might think otherwise.

            For example, what if I said “you are awake now” or that you were “wasting your intellectual gifts” to you? Would you find that friendly, congenial, in the best interests of having a constructive exchange? Or would you feel belittled, put down, insulted, and perhaps like I really didn’t care what you had to say, that instead I’m just lashing out — who knows why? Would you think I had something substantial to say, or maybe wonder if I was just throwing out insults because I didn’t really know how to respond, or maybe couldn’t respond?

            When you say that you “did explain why” when you labelled my comments as “commonplaces, misunderstandings, and non-sense” — I wonder, do you actually believe that a crass characterization is the equivalent to an even cursory *explanation* of *how* something is a “commonplace” or a “misunderstanding”? Do you see that? Without providing any substance, all you’re doing is applying a label. That’s it, nothing more. Nobody should take dismissive labels as standing in for evidence or logic, and I hope you don’t — I sure as hell don’t.

            You get closer to providing something substantial when you talk about the context for the church’s support of Mussolini and the history of Italian politics. Ok, that’s getting somewhere. What’s interesting, though, is that you didn’t deny that the church supported Mussolini (or Franco), but that you seemed to suggest that, somehow, that Italian politics actually justified the church’s support of fascism. That suggests that some set of historical conditions exist in which supporting fascism–i.e., intense aggressive nationalism, imperialism, normalized violence, racism, sexism, corporate control of society–is justified. I just don’t buy it.

            What actually happened, if we want to be honest about the facts, was that the church supported Mussolini in order to retain its own power and privilege. It supported Mussolini, and in exchange it got the Vatican city-state and catholic education was mandated at every level in Italy. It didn’t say, no, because we believe in the teachings of Christ, we oppose the violence and racism and sexism and oppression of fascism. The church didn’t take that stand. It openly supported Mussolini, and Franco, and for over 1500 years has supported power and privilege (and had plenty of its own) wherever the church’s interests aligned with those of the powerful. I doubt Jesus would have done the same, having read a bit of the gospels myself.

            And yes, I “placed Constantine and Liberation Theology within 50 words of each other”. So what? What’s your point? There’s actually a link there, between Christianity becoming the religion of the state and the church crushing liberation theology. The link is that the actions and teachings of the church used to resemble pretty closely what liberation theology espoused — which is basically just to read the gospels and take them seriously — before it was perverted and used as a tool of control and oppression by Constantine.

            I understand you don’t like what I’m saying. You’ve made that clear enough. But you’re not actually addressing anything I’m saying. What I’m saying doesn’t seem to matter, it’s just the fact that any kind of opposition to the church has been expressed, which seems unimaginable to you, thus your incredible reaction.

            I’m going to excuse myself from this conversation now, which if you want to take as me conceding to you, please, go ahead. I hope you’ll see how you’ve treated me, though, I really do, for your own sake. I don’t see how you’re gaining anything from it, besides perhaps simply further entrenching yourself in your firmly-held beliefs.

          • ColdStanding

            Please spare me your tears and hurt feelings. Don’t complain to me about rough treatment. As far as I am concerned, you were fishing for blow-back. I am the blow-back you wanted. Own it. You manufactured a crisis of hurt feelings so that you could squeal about just how mean Catholics are. Your initial post, laying aside the obvious style faults and ahistorical characterizations, was calculated to insult. Not edify. Insult. You cherry picked 2000 years of history for a bouquet of grievances with the express aim of re-enforcing your sense of victimization. That is what your posts say to me. I didn’t address your historical interpretation because your conceptions of the past are clouds upon which you project whatever you want to see. The only thing in your post to talk about is you.

            Goodness sakes! Why does everybody turn into such a damn baby when the going gets rough? Did I tell you what to write? Did you email a list of talking points to me before you posted? Am I in any way constrained to respond to your post in the way that you would like? No. No. and No. You posted your anti-Catholic trash talk on an active Catholic board. Then you have the gall to cry about it when your charade comes tumbling down?

          • SocialTexture

            Sorry, couldn’t resist — and this is how Catholics are encouraged to treat people? Really? Where do the gospels say, go forth and slander? Where is Jesus quoted as saying, “insult thy neighbour, and if they retort, dismiss their claims and cruelly belittle them”? You clearly identify as Catholic, yet somehow the most central teachings don’t apply to you? How do you, on the one hand, so stridently and aggressively defend the church (and are so obviously offended when someone dares question the church), but on the other hand you don’t seem to care in the least for treating people decently, despite the most central and radical teachings of the church being about kindness, love, decency, and respect?

            I went to Catholic school for 12 years and I remember being told repeatedly to “treat others as you want to be treated”, “love your neighbour as you love yourself”, “love your enemy”, turn the other cheek, and so on. In fact, I always thought that Jesus’ sacrifice, the act the church is built on and where its most powerful symbol (the cross) comes from, was meant to be taken as the most outstanding, exemplary act of love and kindness imaginable: giving up one’s life so others could have (eternal) freedom. I thought the message there was to be self-sacrificing and to try and be kind and help others, but maybe I misunderstood the gospels, my priest, my teachers, my parents, my friends–everybody–for the vast majority of my life.

            Don’t those teachings, those messages, those acts, have any kind of daily significance for you? Aren’t the basic implications of those teachings to strive to be kind to others, despite how they act towards you? In fact, the gospels go so far as to call for the most radical pacifism possible — even saying we should refuse to react when violence is done to us:

            Luke 6:27-31 – Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

            I don’t interpret that passage as meaning, “do whatever you want, act however you want, treat people like shit — as long as you pray later.” Do you? What do you take from the teachings of the church you clearly so strongly identify with? I wonder. I really have no idea. If the basic messages have failed to mean anything to you, then why stick around?

            In effect, it seems you just want to protect the power and status of the church. If you hadn’t first resorted to insults and dismissals and had made an honest attempt to engage with what I was saying, then it might be possible to imagine some other motive — but that’s not what you did, so I really don’t know what else to imagine your motives are, besides a blind and overwhelming need to defend the church at all costs. If that’s the case, then I feel for you, because you’ve been tricked. Someone has fucked with you and made you feel that way — maybe your parents, maybe your priest, maybe your school or community, I don’t know. Or maybe you did it yourself, who knows.

            Either way, I urge you to do something crazy… like read the gospels again, for instance. Do they say, “treat people like shit”? Do they say, “obsessively defend the church at all costs, no matter what it does”? Or, maybe, just maybe, do they have another and very different message that has great significance for our lives?

            And one could also look outside the church for answers to similar questions, too — another crazy idea.

          • ColdStanding

            LOL! I total called it! Fake from start to finish. Why did I dismiss your commentary? Because it was fake. Fake means not true. Fake means misdirecting intent. Playing possum. Maudlin tears. Bait and switch. It was that obvious. Debating early 20th century relations between the Catholic Church and the nascent Italian state in a bloody combox. That’s totally what you wanted to do. Nope, nothing else. Just the relationship between Mussolini, Franco, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the Fascistic ascendancy. How farcical! How can you not see the utter ridiculousness of your gambit?

            All you actually wanted to do was find an opening to roll out your Punch and Judy puppet show “Evils of the Roman Hierarchy.” Oooh! Scary. Wait, I’m caught in a web of my self-contradictory claims. Nooooooooooo!

            Too funny.

          • SocialTexture

            Again with the unsubstantiated claims. What was “fake”? Why? What makes giving an example of how the church has acted counter to its teachings and in fact screwed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people (i.e., by supporting Mussolini and Franco’s wars, repression, elitism, racism, aggression, etc., in order to maintain or extend its own power and influence) “fake”? Do you realize that giving your definition of fake (“misdirecting intent”) doesn’t actually say anything about what you said, that you instead just created a self-justifying loop for yourself? It’s as if I said, “What you said was *crocodile* from start to finish. A *crocodile* is an animal.” Do you see how that says absolutely nothing about what you might have said? That it’s just pure nonsense?

            And where was the “debate”? You didn’t say a single substantial word about anything I said — not counting your outright dismissals, again, now including “fake”, without any reasons — so there was no debate. A debate requires exchange. I provided claims and the logic for them, and you gave insults. Not much of an exchange.
            And, again, you said nothing about what I actually wrote in my last comment, which spoke directly to the teachings of the church. I wonder why you, as a self-identified defender of the church, didn’t engage with my claims about the church’s teachings? That seems highly suspect. I don’t know why you would avoid such matters; I can only guess.

            I truly wish, for your sake, that you could see what you were doing (or not doing). You would be better for it. And others, like anyone that had the misfortune of reading this exchange, let alone engaging in it, would be better for it, too.

          • ColdStanding

            It is fake because you do not want to talk about Italian/Church politics. Really and honestly, you don’t. You want to bash the Church because you have a bee in your bonnet but you just won’t admit that to yourself, so you have to come up with a bait and switch to hide your intent.

            Fess up. You hate the Church. Maybe you hate God. You think Catholics are a bunch of phonies. Who knows? And stop trying to hook me into an irrelevant discussion about subjects neither you or I have the slightest competency in. I don’t have a Ph.D in modern Italian history. Nor is my Italian good enough to acquire even a layman’s understanding of the situation from first hand sources.

            Tip for you: This is an insult, “SocialTexture, you breath smells like the armpit of a camel jockey.” This is me calling BS, “SocialTexture, I think you are palming your intent here. I think your gambit is both transparent and fake.” Example a is insulting only if you have thin skin. Example b feels like it is an insult, but it is really just the sting of “busted.”

    • opinionated1945

      Constantine never made Christianity a state religion. He simply allowed it to become legal to practice Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Heim/1356572373 Ken Heim

    Man, you are good! Keep writing the truth, your words will have an impact.

  • Patrick

    Why would we not worship God using that which is precious to us? If we show our love for others with, for example, diamond rings or have magnificent houses of government, how can we not do this more so for the King of Creation? We should devote that which we value to God. Helping the poor and building a beautiful church is not an either/or proposition. As others have pointed out, Christ considered it appropriate for the penitent woman to anoint his feet with expensive perfume.

    • Bill

      Ahem. Devote “that which we value” to God? Or what GOD values?

  • darrenl

    Let’s say that the Church did sell everything it owns. It then gave all of those proceeds to the poor. Let’s work this out.

    For fun, let’s say that the Catholic Church is able to liquefy everything and get 1 Trillion dollars (…I’m being very generous here…). All that art…all that gold…all the buildings…sold to private interests. Let’s say there are about 100 million homeless people in the world. So, if we were to just give all that money to just the homeless, each person would get $10000 for that year. Barely enough to even buy a home…and what do they do about next year when all that money is barely spent on food? Who do we go after next to make sure those people get more money?

    This whole idea that the Church should sell everything comes from the faulty premise that poverty is solved by throwing money at it. The reason people pick on the Church in this case has nothing to do with helping the poor…they couldn’t care less or they’d be selling everything they have. It is because this is the best way to rationalize their hate for her and still look noble while doing the hating.

    • Alexandra

      That’s a pretty nasty characterization of the motivations of people who see hypocrisy in the Church.

      I just never found my church to actually really encourage sacrifice for the poor, while we sat in our awesome pretty basilica. I wanted to be part of a community that was concerned with social justice more than it was glorifying God with the material. I wanted to be lead by people who encouraged us to not make excuses for our ornate churches, and instead challenged us to do more for social justice.

      I only found people in the laity like that, and I am critical of the decadence and waste in churches because they can do better. People defending the practices just blows my mind.

      • ColdStanding

        Yeh, I know what you mean. Some people defend the indefensible and it is just mind boggling the things that they will say. Like, who’d ever think that having undertaken the act that brings about children, that you’d actually be sort of expected to, you know, have the child? That would interfere with one’s participation in social justice.

        • Sarah M

          What are you talking about? Why create a false dichotomy where there is none?

          • ColdStanding

            Sarah M: Alexandra is rabidly, in the face of all reason pro-infanticide. With credentials like that, how can anybody take seriously her claims for interest in “social justice”. If her social justice includes abortion on demand, it is a total perversion of the words.

          • Alexandra

            Why do you need to change the subject? We’re talking about wealth in the Church not abortion. I’m talking about economic justice here. No one brought up abortion.

          • ColdStanding

            @23cb3c4910328f69ebf5196255be76ea:disqus: So, what? I’m just supposed to forget about your pro-infanticide advocacy and not take it into account when assessing the comments you make? Fat chance, lady. You are for the murder, unabashedly, of the unborn. That so twists your thinking that everything, all of it, has to be viewed in light of this fact. You need to publicly renounce your support for abortion, return to the Roman Catholic Church, and beg, in the most abject way you can imagine, for mercy and forgiveness from God for the damage you have done.

          • Alexandra

            You can’t just like have a conversation like an adult without trying to smear someone? That’s a pretty closed minded and uncharitable way to live, guy.

          • ColdStanding

            Conversation? I’m rebuking you, not conversing.

            What good is there in compromising with evil? Are you now saying you are not pro-infanticide? If being pro-life and defending the rights of the unborn and the family makes me close minded, then, yes, I am close-minded.
            The purpose of opening the mind is to then clamp it down on something more firm, not to let the brain fall out of the head.
            Repent sinner!

          • Alexandra

            Oh well, I’m not interested in being rebuked, seeing as that’s pretty pretentious and silly.

            I thought we were having a conversation. Cos you know, that’s how you change hearts and minds. Not calling people names.

          • ColdStanding

            Cold day in hell before I take your cue on the social graces! If you find my tone strident, it is because of the gravity of your error and the risk of eternal damnation for your soul. I’m not calling you names, I am naming, correctly and with the best words, your error.

            But making fine distinctions will only lead to you being forced to dismantle the Chinese Wall in your being, by which you attempt to hide from the enormity of your psychic dissonance.

            Repent while God still offers you mercy! Murder = Abortion.

          • Alexandra

            I don’t find your tone strident, I find it ridiculous and comical.

            Don’t take cues from me, whatever. But what I’m advocating in terms of not talking to people like they’re evil and refusing to have a conversation that might open them up to your way of thinking is definitely something I learned during my time as a Catholic.

          • ColdStanding

            Your time with the Catholics, would likely be more true. You obviously were not much of a student while you were with them, because it is not you, by the Holy Teaching, that is evil, but it is you, and you will bare the responsibility, that is being seduced by Satan and his evil spirits.

            There is no compromise with evil. You are advocating evil. There is no other way to say it. What else can the advocacy of child murder be other than evil?

            Stop running further down your hell hole out of foolish pride. Repent. You try to twist a picture of me being comical, but the joke is on you. You won’t be laughing when you reap what you have sown. To top it off, you will call the Judgement you receive just.

          • Josie Garry

            As a fellow Catholic, I am offended at the tone you have chosen to take with Alexandra. We are asked to love the sinner and hate the sin. This means speaking with respect to others even if their beliefs differ from ours. We, as Catholics, are called to speak the truth. We are called to defend our beliefs, especially on issues of life. However, we are called to speak the truth with love. Without love, our words cannot bear witness to the truth because no one will listen to them. Please, please reconsider how you engage in conversation with those who disagree with us. Chastisements and anger do not win hearts or minds. Love and well-reasoned conversations do.

          • ColdStanding

            You mistakenly apply principles that do not take into account her history here in this forum. A good number of people have patiently explained to here the error of her ways in the most “charitable” way possible. You really could not fault them for their niceness towards her in the face of her obstinate apostasy. She merely takes it as licence to continue with allowing Satanic powers to pour filth and lies out of her mouth.

            I do not know why you would expect me to tie my hands behind my back in this instance. The natural voice of the Church is loving but not gentle. Do you think the blessed and holy of sainted name in the Roman Catholic Church refused to speak directly, clearly and forcefully when a baptized Catholic spoke heresy or apostasized placing their immortal soul in the very gravest of dangers? Of course they didn’t. Now, I am not claiming that I have any of the qualities of the Holy Spirit active in my life as He was in theirs, but they surely are the model of how to handle this situation.

            I will not submit to how the worldly, in service to Satan, judges the aptness of my cadence. Neither should you. Find your inner St. Bernard and harangue a heretic. It will do your soul good.

          • Alexandra

            Satanic powers. Seriously. Are you trying to make me laugh?

          • Charity

            @ColdStanding:disqus : So I understand (and appreciate) your defense of the lives of unborn children and I understand that you have had many encounters with Alexandra (the original poster) over several controversial topics, but I still do not understand why that justifies you in shutting out her right to voice her opinions and thoughts on a different, relatively unrelated, topic.

            I myself am a young Catholic (well, relatively young, I’m twenty-two and a “cradle Catholic”) and am still at a stage in my life where I am discovering what my faith truly means to me (though, for the moment, I doubt anyone is ever done searching for a deeper connection to God). If I were in Alexandra’s shoes (and I have been before) your harsh words are the last thing I would want to hear from a Church that I have felt, and still feel, is often unsympathetic to the plights of young women (and no, I’m not talking about “I just want to party and have fun and why do you hate me Church” plights) but the sense of being lost to an institute that is extremely patriarchal.

            I know this seems off topic but bear with me for a moment: when you already feel like you have no voice it can be all the more debilitating when you are further shut down. I understand that you disagree with some of the topics she has devoted her voice to (I do too if she supports abortion) but that does not mean you need to cut off everything that she says. Nor does the fact that you disagree with her on a moral topic mean that she is wrong in her criticisms of the Church. If that’s her experience and no one has done anything to contradict it (and, really, you’re not helping much friend) then how can she learn anything different.

            Jesus said “let you who has no sin cast the first stone” I understand the desire to save a soul and the passion that comes when protecting life (really I do) but I cannot understand how you got it in your head that verbally abusing someone on the internet was the best way to do that. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that in heated debates the ones who speak with a reasoned voice in the face of fire–no matter their position on the topic–are always the ones who not only prevail as the most respected contributors but also provide their side with a shining gold star.

            If you want to change some ones heart, show them the love that can be found in a life, or the open ear in a disinterested crowd, or the kind compassion in the face of hate or the passion of faith.

            And also, don’t change the subject. We’re here to talk about the wealth of the Catholic Church and how people perceive it (both the Church and the wealth). If you really wanted to help the Chruch’s case in this matter you could have answer more along the lines of “Kristen inDallas” below who made a very thoughtful and reasonable argument that did not rely on verbally bashing others for beliefs that are wholly unrelated to the current topic.

          • Alexandra

            Beautifully said Charity.

            Comments like yours are really appreciated. Not because I want everyone to agree with me or defend me, but because ColdStanding is being arrogant and unkind and when no one stands up and says hey, not cool, it feels like everyone agrees and that’s a sad sort of world to be in.

          • Charity

            Thanks and no problem. I’ve totally been in your place before and I can’t stand when people decide to pick and chose which rights can be practiced by whom. Yes ColdStanding has a right to express their opinions but so do you. And neither of you should have to present your case in a hostile environment.
            So, again, no problem! ;)

          • ColdStanding

            The crux of your ramble against me is that I have verbally abused Alexandra? Where? Quote me. Heck, so what if I did? Explain to me how my directly and unambiguously refusing quarter to there-is-nothing-wrong-with-aborting-the-unborn Alexandra is wrong.

            I have no idea why you are even giving her a whiff of succor. It is a very strange choice. She couldn’t give a crap about your kindness and will fill you with all sorts of nonsense. You’d better find some backbone. People are dying, even before they get out of the womb and certainly all over the world, Christians are being martyred. More in the 20th and early 21st century than all other centuries combined.

            Nicey nice ain’t going to cut it. Give your head a shake.

          • Charity

            Okay, this is going to be a long one again but you did ask for it (and I mean literally, quote: “Explain to me how my directly and unambiguously refusing quarter to there-is-nothing-wrong-with-aborting-the-unborn Alexandra is wrong.” -end quote).

            Well I live to serve! (Like Jesus did! :D )

            Oh this is going to be fun.

            See, here’s the thing, (and I realize this might be a bit of a news flash for you so just hold on to your britches and stay with me) but the Catholic Church is founded on principles of love:

            1st “You shall love God, your Father before all things.”
            2nd “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

            Whoa! I know! Crazy, right? Talk about a world changer! Jesus rocking the foundation of my soul, man! What are you doing? But stay with me, okay, we’ll make it through this.

            Jesus, our Savior, the reason the Catholic Church exists gaves us these two commandements. The new Covenant he made with us (the one that, for us, replaced God’s old Covenant, the one sealed with the sacrifice of His body and blood, the one that took away our sins) was based on a message of loving others as God as loved us. And you know what? God loves us unconditionally. He even says that. Several times. Weird, right?

            Why am I giving her a “whiff of succor”? Jeez, I don’t know, maybe because I believe in respecting basic human dignity and LOVING MY NEIGHBOR AS MYSELF! (I capitalized that for you since apparently Jesus didn’t say it enough himself…no big deal. He’s just God.) And no it’s not a strange choice, I believe in hearing everybody out, because everyone has a right to voice their opinions in a rational and respectable manner. Yes even you.

            And before you go making some weird correlation between me trying to love everyone (you’re making it a bit difficult right now by the way) and abortion, I’ll put this out there: I DO NOT AGREE WITH ABORTION! Yes I think it’s murder, yes I think it’s wrong, yes I cry when I hear stories of mothers giving up their children, yes I pray for those poor children and yes I PRAY FOR THE MOTHERS! That they might know God’s love and forgiveness. But I don’t shove it in their faces b/c that’s not what they need! They need love.

            And you want to know why else I’m giving her a “whiff of succor”? Because if the poor and sinners were good enough for Jesus to eat with than I’m sure we can all share an internet blog. (still blowing your mind? Well, I’m not done yet! :D )

            Really, I don’t have backbone? Okay, see, this is what I’m talking about. Instead of taking the time to come back with a reasonable and polite response to what I said (maybe even some encouragement in my time of struggling with my faith, b/c you know that would be the Christian thing to do) you instead slip into unnecessary insults when I have done nothing except have the backbone/nerve/audacity to say, “hey, dude (brother/sister Catholic), look bro I get you, spread the message, ride hard, but chill. We all cool here. Children of God, Praise His name and all that jazz.” (well not quite like that but you get my point).

            But then, maybe you don’t considering you did not take the time to address any of my earlier points.

            Other people like @google-e56e3a922f7a04350acb4de973c63e67:disqus also tried this but you did not even give her words a second’s more consideration than to release your ‘holier-than-thou’ prejudice–I mean justice–sorry, slip of the fingers there–on her and everyone else.

            Yes, congrats, you have a backbone, you stand up for what you believe in and condemn those who don’t agree with you b/c you are obviously in the right. Enjoy your pride (deadly sin, btws, but it’s okay the blogs big enough for all of us b/c I’m indulging in a little too much rage right now myself). But while you eat of that pie I’m going to enjoy my compassionate heart and hear out what everyone has to say. I don’t have to agree with them (this response is a perfect example of that, and in case you missed it I’m essentially disagreeing with both of you, just on different matters) but I can pay them the respect I wish to receive as well.

            And she’s actually been extremely polite to me btw, more so than you’ve been. Exponentially more so actually. Even when I made a few incorrect assumptions. But hey I’m only human, right? (And you know, humans make mistakes…hey isn’t the Church run by humans?…the same humans who are born with the stain of original sin?…huh)

            You’re right, Christians are being persecuted. Here’s your cross, got it? Jesus bore his in silence, maybe you should do the same?

            “Nicey nice” might not be how the world works, but I want to be the change this world needs. I think that’s what Jesus and God want of me.

            I believe that living my life as a Catholic will serve the world more good than telling it that I’m one.

            (Btw, @twitter-117171501:disqus , you are proved wrong. Sorry, I don’t hold it against you.)

          • ColdStanding

            Look, thanks and all, I know you are trying to help. Normally I don’t take up with posters such as yourself. Nothing personal, I’m just more of a hammer than a feather. World needs both, right? Hey, you’ve done your duty. Said your piece. Rebuked my roughness. Again, thanks. I shall take your criticisms to heart and review my conscience for the fault of pride.

            Begging your pardon, ‘m lady.

          • Alexandra

            No, the world doesn’t need your hammering. I think that’s her point.

          • ColdStanding

            I’m not hammering the world, Alexandra. Just you.

          • Alexandra

            Yes, and your hammering at me is not something the world needs. Because all it does is making you look arrogant and nasty.

          • ColdStanding

            The world may not need it. You many not want it. Too bad. Your unapologetic advocacy of infanticide ain’t making you look so rosy either. I’ll take arrogant and nasty over cold heart’d and murderous any day.

          • Alexandra

            You know, there’s a lot of people who aren’t set on behaving arrogant and nasty who would be more charitable and think of me as earnest but mislead. That’s how I like to think of people on the other side of the abortion debate. But sure, if you’re into villainizing people, go for it. I’m pretty sure it’s never proved to be super effective, and it certainly isn’t effective in this case, but if you want to stick to that, clearly that’s what you’re going to do.

          • ColdStanding

            There isn’t any equivalency going on here, Alexandra. There is you and your extremely misguided support of infanticide. That’s it. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to be in your life. I don’t want to converse with you. I just want to knock down that horrible idol in your heart which you are willing to sacrifice the lives of the unborn to.

            You are not a villain, but you are in the thrall of villainy and there is precious little distance between the two.

          • Alexandra

            Well, you don’t have that power Cold.

            And pretending that you do is making you look stupid.

          • ColdStanding

            Ah, so there it is. Nobody’s going to touch my heart. Not even God.

            Our hearts are not ours. You’ve taken what does not belong to you and you are holding on so tight to it, willing with all your might, to keep what isn’t yours. So tightly do you cling, that you’d even throw the unborn into the trash because you think that will enable you to keep the loot you’ve pilfered. You are compelled to support abortion because it is the sacrifice your idol demands to keep God away from your heart.

            Our hearts belong to God alone.

          • Alexandra

            You’re God? Is that what you’re claiming? Or that you speak for him? Interesting.

          • Deven Kale

            I, on behalf of all decent men, apologize to you now for these neanderthals that think the proper tool for any situation, is a hammer, even when what is truly required is more like a sponge.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Proverbs tells us something along the lines of a soft word turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. It seems to me that is what has happened here. Not saying Alexandra is right on her views of abortion – I don’t think anyone could be more vehemently against it than I – but the posts have definitely gotten very toxic.

          • ColdStanding

            If you think letting a baptized Catholic who has fallen into apostasy know that they are on the road to eternal damnation is making things “toxic”, well, let’s just say I find that odd.

            Eternal damnation has been taught from the very beginning of the Christian faith. It is real. It is the fate of the unrepentant. Speaking frankly about the faith is the duty of every Catholic. Alexandra is a baptized Catholic who’s soul is in grave jeopardy at this very instant. If that doesn’t get you off your butt and into action, what will? You’d better re-read some of her postings and just to see how far sweetness has gotten with her. I have placed before her, in stark relief the implications of the choice she has made. When she is called to look back upon her life and give an account of her doings, she will not be able to claim nobody told her she was on the road to ruin.

            I’m kick’n it old school.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Kicking it old school? You’re preaching fire and brimstone. While I agree that abortion is wrong – to me, nothing less than premeditated murder as is the death penalty, you are just mean-spirited and not very Christian. Everyone can repent and only God knows what is in a person’s heart. You’ve set yourself up has her judge and executioner and that is not your job.

          • ColdStanding

            And fire and brimstone-style preaching is a) new school or b) old school? Anyone? Besides, I am not preaching (finish the sentence) a sermon. I am rebuking and apostate Catholic. Big difference. You really need to calm down. Oi, your language skills are poor. I am acting as an accuser against Alexandra. Again, a very big difference. My post clearly indicate that I know who the judge is and what the sentence COULD be. Double oi! You are doing a great disservice to Alexandra in attacking me. You only re-enforce her errors. She just laughs at you. All the way to hell. Does her eternal damnation mean nothing to you? And you say I am mean?????

            Now, because you think I am a big meany. Oh, you are mean one, ColdStanding! This article was published today:
            http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/09/deacon-bickerstaff-four-last-things-heaven-and-hell/

            Just so ridiculous.

          • Alexandra

            Thank you CatholicGirl. I know ColdStanding has decided to by my proxy and let you know that I’m Satan and am lying and manipulating when I say I appreciate your kindness, but I absolutely do. Your ability to be patient in kind in the face of vehement disagreement with me is admirable. It’s easy to judge and spew about how much more right you are than other people, and that’s all that ColdStanding seems to feel like doing.

          • bobthechef

            Silly boy. If I were in Alexandra’s shoes (and I have, though not as a woman; my sister was in her shoes, and can attest), I would have loved a strong declaration of the truth. It’s not a question of sympathy. Our society needs to snap out of its coma and wake up. Women need to realize what they’re doing. Women today are objectified more than they’ve ever been (those who don’t believe that reveal their ignorance). Yes, we need to approach and encourage women that are frightened to choose otherwise, but let’s not baby them! Women clamor about equality, then act like adults! Harsh yet well articulated words are the medicine needed. Political correctness has blunted their edge, and look where it got us. So don’t give me that crap, nor your uninformed and ignorant, Protestant-style bible verses.

          • Charity

            Wow, I didn’t realize this string was still going on, it’s been like 4 months…weird.

            Anyways, let’s talk about a few things (and be prepared, I got wordy again):

            1st: I’m a girl. Not a big deal that you think otherwise (it’s actually been happening a lot lately, maybe I type like a dude speaks. meh, whatever, off topic). But, yeah, totally a girl, got the ovaries and menstrual cycles to prove it.

            2nd: I’ll give you this: you do have a personal experience that I cannot currently match. I personally know no one who has ever had an abortion though I know plenty of people who support a woman’s right to have an abortion.

            3rd: to make this completely and utterly clear: I DO NOT AGREE WITH ABORTION NOR DO I THINK IT IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT OF ANY SHAPE OR FORM….cool, just getting that out of the way. A life is a life and no one has the right to steal such a precious gift.

            4th: Yes we live in a society that over objectifies women (and yeah, I’ve experienced it myself. Trust me it’s not fun being underestimated or pidgin-holed because of your sex and I’ve had to struggle with sexism from both the workplace and from some of my best friends and even from my boss) and until we destroy the rape culture that dominates our society we will never see true equality. (also I don’t really see what the objectification of women has to do with abortion outside of maybe coming at it from the “rape” scenario)

            5th: And while we’re on that topic, if we’re going to talk about equality
            between men and women then men need to start taking contraceptives to prevent pregnancies or maybe start being men and stop leaving women in a position where they have to face the harsh reality of being a single mother. And, while we’re at it, maybe we should teach our men not to rape our women. (woah, what? Responsibility? Men don’t do that shit!) You want women to act like adults? Well I’m waiting for the men of the world to grow a fucking pair and take responsibility for their actions. So until that happens, keep your double standards to yourself.

            6th: sorry, that was a little off topic, where were we? Oh right:

            7th: This has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with loving others. As I said before, if Jesus could love prostitutes and sinners then I can find it in my heart to forgive these women who, I feel/strongly believe, are mislead by a society that engages in slut shaming.

            8th: Uh…cool, so now, because my opinions differ from your own I’m “ignorant and uniformed”? Oh, and apparently a Protestant*…Okay, cool, let’s lay out a few facts:

            Fact A: I went through 12 years of Catholic school, no not Sunday school, I’m talking hard-core, priests and nuns were my teachers, catholic school. I go to church every Sunday, say the Rosary at least once a week and am currently reworking my way through the Bible (b/c it needs to be read constantly as we grow older). So you know what, pack up your assumptions and get out of town, I know what I’m fucking talking about.

            Fact B: Nothing I said is news to the Catholic Church. Nor does it come from some strange Protestant version of the Bible. It comes from the one sitting in my Catholic Church’s pews. So, how about, instead of telling me off for quoting our faith’s Bible, you sit down and take a second to read the thing!

            Who knows, you might learn something.

            *disclaimer: being a Protestant is not a bad thing it was just a really odd conclusion to draw.

          • http://twitter.com/filiusdextris filius dextris

            I don’t think the conversation is optimal, but it’s not entirely out of line. Alexandra’s comments from other posts certainly add context to her initial negative comments here and ColdStanding does well to point that out. He may have correctly determined that a rebuke is the best chance at saving a soul as countless threads of “conversation” have failed to do so. I personally disagree with that assessment but I could see that it is within the realm of possibility. I don’t think ColdStanding would have treated a forum stranger with the same tone.

          • ColdStanding

            Argumentation, as specific means of attempting to sort out a point of controversy, assumes that participants are interested in actually resolving the issue. Alexandra is not interested. Emphatically not. She is only interested in sucking people, faithful Catholics especially, into “conversations” in which she fills their ear with all kinds of disgusting notions and evil propositions. And these very nice, kind and loving souls fall for it every time. She feels that, and there is ample evidence in her posts of this, that Catholic teaching on the value of life is complete nonsense and will use any opportunity to say so, hopefully to lead them astray from the faith.

            I appreciate your kind defense of me.

          • http://twitter.com/filiusdextris filius dextris

            Rebuke is a dangerous but valid form of address. Jesus did not coddle Peter when needed but rebuked his friend and disciple, saying “Get behind me, Satan.” Your words have been harsh, but no harsher than those of our Lord, so I think they have some legitimacy and do not necessarily connote disrespect (even if most people would treat it as such). I only wonder if it’s not worth wasting breath on at all, but I can’t logically explain that view as superior to your rebuke, thus my defense of your approach as one of several legitimate responses. I assume you favor this approach sparingly.

          • ColdStanding

            Sparingly? No. I’m more of the malleus malificarum school.

            I jest. (Mostly)

          • Alexandra

            Lead people astray from the faith? You really think that little of your fellow Catholics intellectual fortress, and think my words have that much power? I’m flattered I guess?

            I talk to people to learn about where they’re coming from, and I assume they learn something about where I’m coming from. If you want to assume that where I’m coming from is pure evil and Satan and all of that, go for it, but that’s just stupid and cruel.

            You’ve accomplished nothing of any good with your nastiness.

          • ColdStanding

            Oh, and saying its cool, all the cool kids are doing it, to abort the unborn is doing good? That is so unbelievably messed up.

            I have read far too many of your posts, Alexandria, and recoiled in disgust. You have a very deep wound that is making you say extremely cruel things, the stench of which you hide under a smooth veneer of reasonableness. You are deceived.

            You are so far gone that you think I’m being mean to you by telling you the truth that would set you free from your bondage. That is just so very sad and pathetic.

            I would never wish you to go to eternal damnation, but that is where you are headed.

          • bobthechef

            Coming from? From the stinking pits of hell, perhaps. And if the show fits, wear it. The days of the Church of Nice with Fr. Nice at the Archdiocese of Nice with Archbiship Nice are numbered. It is not flattery, but a defense of the weak Catholic who may be led astray by your filth. Don’t flatter yourself. Evil is by nature weak, not powerful, and humans are only minions of the Evil One. You are as best a noxious odor and a deliverer of poison to those among use who are weak. It is the duty of the strong to declare the truth against witches like you. Crawl back into the coven from whence you came.

          • bobthechef

            Love is not hand-holding during the Our Father like a goober. Charity isn’t making someone feel good. I think your happy-clappy views about how to tackle issues is part of the problem with American Catholics today. The time for dialog on these issues is over. We must focus on spreading the word, calling things for what they are, and on giving honest, truthful answers to honest questions.

      • Charity

        Hey Alexandra, the fall out drama below aside, I don’t think the article painted a “nasty” characterization of the Church’s critics (it actually seems rather “level headed” to me in its over all approach to explain its point).

        That being said I understand your frustration with the the way some of the Church’s clergymen can behave. Its easy to see hypocrisy around us and in others but that doesn’t mean it exists everywhere. I’ve had the blessing to move around a lot growing up so I’ve been to Churches all across the country and even the world. The one thing that I have learned is that not all priests are created the same. I’ve encountered the whole gambit: from Priests that make me proud to be a catholic woman and sing the praises of God to Priests who seem to go out of their way to make me feel like a piece of shit b/c I’m a woman and “oh we embodiments of feminine temptation!!!” XD

        My point is that I hope you will not let one (or even a few) bad experiences paint your picture of the Catholic Church and draw you away from us entirely. There are many of us who are really do want to see the love we preach enacted and try to live it everyday.

        I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

        • Alexandra

          No I don’t think Marc’s article painted a nasty characterization, but I think darreni, who I was responding to, did.

          I was drawn away from the Church because I’m an atheist, but I clung to it for a long time because I saw it as a wonderful champion of social justice. I still appreciate a lot of the CST and know a lot of Catholics that I greatly admire for their commitment to goodness and love.

          I think the Church is just too big. When you get an institution that big, with that much influence, that’s when corruption happens and then people try to cover it up because they believe in the good that the institution does and don’t want the human mistakes to tarnish it.

          I’m really turned off by how much people in this comment thread are defending the Church as if it is perfect and without fault. But I thank you for your kind comments!

          • Charity

            Oops, my bad, totally didn’t realize you were replying to someone else. :P

            That’s fair enough (about being atheist). I didn’t really know your back ground so I made an assumption (we all know what that can do). But I see what you mean and I think the Church does provide a lot of that Social Justice you’re looking for it can just sometimes be buried under the stuff that gets thrown into the media.

            Your point about the Church being an institute is also fair. We see the same problem arise when people criticize America. They can have absolutely valid points but people won’t hear them out b/c “OMG America’s the Bestest ever how could you?!”

            It’s a sad truth that the Church has made a lot of mistakes in its past and present. And even sadder that mistakes will continue to happen. But just because the institute is flawed doesn’t mean it should be disbanded (and I know that’s not your argument I’m just completing the thought process on mine).

            I totally encourage you to keep pointing out our faults. Feedback is the best way to learn you’ll never hear me complain about the feedback you provide! Be it positive, negative or somewhere in between! [though I reserve the right to disagree with you on certain topics. Fair? ;) ]

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678162576 Ce Gzz

        in order to act, you need prayer, in order to pray, you need love…you can’t have actions without prayer and love…there is a time for everything. Any Missionary of Charity would teach you that.

    • Lena

      I think this is well put. Again, money is not the issue, nor is it the resolution. The Church teaches to love people, and in so doing, to serve them. Yes, the Bible says to sell all your posessions and give to the poor. But you have to understand the social and historical context of text. You cannot simply read something and apply it to today’s world. Times have changed, systems changed, people changed. What does the text say to the current world?

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        Very true – we simply cannot apply everything written in the Bible to today’s world. Times have changed; we know more than was known in Bibical times. That applies to so much that is being debated today in the Catholic world – birth control, homosexuality, usury, the consumption on pork and shellfish, etc.

        • ColdStanding

          What total crap! The Roman Catholic Church has never advocated sola scriptura (which you are slyly suggesting as how discernment happens for Catholics). We encounter God in the scriptures and rely upon the Magisterium to guide our interpretation. The Magisterium has catagorically spoke on all these matters. Refer to your CCC and the Code of Canon Law. A Roman Catholic is obliged to submit to the guidance of the Magisterium and not privately interpret. If there is debate, it shouldn’t be by the laity. There certainly isn’t grounds for debate after the Magisterium has definitively spoken.

          • Lena

            In all of your comments, I still don’t see your point. It seems like you are Catholic and you neither agree with no one, regardless of what they argue.

          • ColdStanding

            Really? It is odd that you’d say that, because I did agree with the comment you made which I first posted under below. Remember? Build a boat… deep ocean? Anything?

            So, either I am merely and habitually disagreeable or I have grounds for disagreement and am posting my disagreement under those comments I deem to be in error.

            Which is it?

        • Emily

          You’re only half right. Some things in the Bible are not applicable to today. HOWEVER, the Church’s stance on birth control and homosexuality has *not* changed. Nor will it, nor should it.

          Read the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law as ColdStanding said. You’ll find very definitive teachings there. As Catholics, we don’t rely solely on the Bible – especially not now when everyone’s obsessed with relativism.

          • Lena

            She said these things are being debated in the Catholic world – not the Catholic church. I believe she means that the laity seems to be considering/reconsidering such teachings.
            Certainly, the Church has not changed their teaching on homosexuality and birth control, but that is not to say that the Church is no constantly considering such moral issues. I’m not saying that the teachings should change, nor that they will. All I am saying is that biblical texts, Old Testament and New are to be read and re-read, inspired by the Spirit and interpreted with the love of Christ at the center.
            If we are to read the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law without question, what freedom would there be in that? The Church also teaches to use your own moral conscience…

          • Emily

            Ok so I wrote a reply, and apparently it’s no longer there.

            In order for a person to use ‘their own’ moral conscience, they must first have a moral conscience that has been properly and correctly formed. See the Little Catholic Bubble’s most recent blog post for further detail – Leila explains all fully. :)

            On the issue of ‘freedom’. Freedom does not mean anarchy, it does not mean no laws, nor does it mean that what laws there are can be interpreted howsoever one wishes. Truly good laws actually set man free, by showing him (this is used as the neutral form, just for the record) the best way to live a good life. America is apparently a free country, but it is governed by laws, laws for example, against murder. Murder is murder, and are we any less free for acknowledging that?

            Our freedom is not to reinterpret God’s laws as we wish, but to ignore them if we wish. Human laws can be changed, will change, and will continue to change. We can ignore human law if we believe them to be unjust – because an unjust law is no law at all, but God’s laws (thinking of the Big 10 here)? Nope, we can’t change those.

          • Aaron Hebert

            It won’t “change” it’s stance, but eventually it’ll fall like all religions and empires… and us fags’ll still be fornicating. :)

          • Emily

            Oh wow, you can predict the future! ;) Such blithe assumptions and negative self-identifying do you no favours in the ‘I’ll take you seriously now’ department…

            2000 years and still going strong baby :)

          • Proteios

            That’s a lot to be proud of…..You define yourself by sex? Time to seek more out of life.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bishopgerald.scott Bishop Gerald Scott

        Times don’t change, people do. The difference in the first century church and the 21st century church are the attitudes of those in them, respectively. The first century Christian was more interested in pleasing God, than pleasing him or herself, it is, for the most part, just the opposite in the I, me and mine attitude of the modern 21st century “Christian”.

      • Deshavira

        You know it’s funny you should say that about the context of the text, for the simple fact that all that gold that is adorning all those buildings owned by the Catholic Church came from Africa, and no they didn’t pay for it, or ask anyone for it. Now look how poor these people are because of the sins of these so called fathers. This was during the time when the Catholic Church split Africa up and told each European country that took a piece for the right fee it also had to pay tithes to the Church also. When does the ridiculousness stop?

    • Bill G.

      However if we invest that $1 Trillion and get a reasonable return of 7% [the average return on equities] that would mean $70Billion a year for charitable purposes if my math is correct [I hope it is]. I do not subscribe to this however, believing that the patrimony of the church belongs to the world. Keep it that way.

      • Ian Pryce jr

        Your suggestion does not make sense at all. Especially considering all of the banks tax payers just bailed out. In a way the Church treasury is a much better bank. The works of charity and inspiring beauty are pay outs of interest and dividends. And my lowly tithe, that is a deposit.

    • Pepin the Short

      Exactly. Very well explained piece of (fairly obvious) logic. Looks like common sense isn’t that common after all… I don agree with you that 1 trillion dollars is being generous. Would probably approach two trillion dollars if Church sold of all (as in worldwide) real estate and art… but the logic still stands….

    • John

      Actually the idea that the church should sell everything comes from the very valid claim that you should practice what you preach. The church can’t say we should all help the homeless by not living above our needs, while they have all this gold sitting around for showing off. Its hypocritical. The church throwing money might not end poverty, but it would sure as hell do alot more good then having a gold throne along with other very expensive, non-necessities.

      Really the church should just come clean and say “Yeah we’re not going to help the poor because we’re assholes, but we’re still going to tell you to do it and condemn you if you dont” at least that way they’re being honest.

  • ColdStanding

    If you think that Roman Catholics should give away the wealth that we have built up – for purposes of alleviating all KINDS of poverty no less, show us the way by giving all of your possessions to the poor. That’ll teach us.

    • Will

      Fuck giving my possessions away, I’m not going to do that. But don’t try to spread “your” word, when you don’t even follow what you word says. Your church should practice what it preaches.

      • ColdStanding

        Do it! I double dare you! Coward! Potty mouth. Faithless. Bok, bok, bok.

        The proceeds of the collection plate and numerous special appeals fund actual doing real help for the poor good works. We are soooo practicing what we preach, little man. You’re doing nothing. Your preaching sucks wind. Look behind you. Nobody’s following.

        • Will

          You sound very Catholic. Bullshit, how would you know? Half of the collections in my diocese go right back to the Archbishop to spend as he sees fit. My church could barely make ends meet, because they did pocket the damn money, like the hierarchy of the church does. Catholicism is a joke. It is practiced only on the most basic level, in parishes. Outside of that, it is purely a business. And to defend the businesses “skyscrapers” i.e. basilicas, cathedrals…is defending pure and utter evil.

          • ColdStanding

            That is just the most outrageous thing ever you are describing!! The duly appointed successors of the Apostles directing funds as they see fit within their diocese?!! Especially when you, Will, are just sitting around without a penny even to pinch together. You’d clearly do a much better job than them. Oh, but then YOU’d be participating in utter evil. Best to stay aside then.

            Seriously, why are you so eager to push the knife of your spite deeper into the Heart of Jesus? Why are you so mean spirited when it comes to His love and His plans? Does His suffering for you mean nothing to you? He is the one that founded the Catholic Church. Why won’t you place your trust in Him? Do you think He would deceive you? No, He would not. He put in place the Magisterium and you should place your trust in His design.

          • Will

            Actually St. Peter founded the Catholic Church…not Jesus. And I don’t know, why don’t you do some research the so called “Premier Holy See.” Let me know what you find…

            Do you think its right for a diocese to take 50% of the church’s income, regardless of how much is given to them that month? Would you be ok with the federal government taking 50% of your paycheck? To get nothing in return. They don’t even give money to the parish, they give them “loans.”

          • ColdStanding

            What? Are you joking? You are having problems in your diocese and AND you say it was St. Peter that founded the Church. Problem solved right there, pal. Time to step back from the keyboard and pick up the Bible and start reading. You need a whole year, bare minimum, of intensive basic catechism b/4 you start tackling parish governance. Crawl before you walk, much less run.

          • Will

            He did, he founded the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, under the teachings of Christ. But he himself, starting the church we know today. You are just like every other two faced Catholic out there. You make wild assumptions about me, but you know nothing. Most of the church’s policies today come from decrees from its members based on their interpretations of the Bible. There are 1,000 interpretations to every passage, figuratively speaking. The Bible is not the source to use to back up your argument.

          • ColdStanding

            Mathew 16:18: And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

            Read it a couple of times. I don’t see anything in there about Rome. It isn’t the fact that St. Peter was the bishop of Rome. If St. Peter, moved by the Holy Spirit had gone anyplace else, that seat would have become the city who’s bishop’s say in matters of doctrine would be the final one. Why? Because St. Peter was there. Seriously, that’s 101 level catechism.

            All this means that my intuition that you have serious deficiencies in your understanding of the character and nature of the church founded by Jesus Christ is, in fact, a sound judgement.

            I need not go further to comment upon your errors regarding the Magisterium, as you are likely to be seriously befuddled by them. Again, take some courses by orthodox teachers.

          • Will

            And that’s exactly what I said. That St. Peter founded the Catholic Church…in Rome. Basic Level 101 Common Sense/Reading Comprehension.

            And please don’t attempt to quote/validate CCC. Let us assume for an instant that the Bible is entirely non-fiction/historically accurate/the word of God. CCC is not. That would be like me writing a set of rules and guidelines how I interpret the Bible and calling it whatever the hell I want to call it.

          • rose

            Why do you believe in the Bible? Because it is the inspired work of God? How do you know? Because it says so? I could write a book tonight and claim that it is inspired by God. That would not make it so. I believe in the BIble (as all Catholics do) because the Church gave it to us. Because the Church painstakingly created it, sifting through all of the many manuscripts to find the ones which were truly inspired by God.

          • Will

            You mean sifting through the ones that aligned with the message they wanted to project? And banned/destroyed all others?

      • musiciangirl591

        one of the priests at my parish said this once (he’s 80 and was talking about the luxuries he didn’t have as a young man), “we must live simply so others may simply live”, what are you clinging to?

        • Lena

          This is a quote authored by many such as Gandhi and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I like it. it sounds nice. The problem is that it cannot apply to individuals. If I lived a more simple lifestyle (used less water, consumed less food, didn’t purcahse so many clothes, etc), those resources would still only be available to other individuals in my already wealthy country.
          Nations would have to adhere to this maxim for any change to occur in the world. However, I do not disagree that it starts with the individual. It is just so much easier said than done.

        • Will

          I don’t have possessions. I don’t live luxuriously. I’ve worked for every single cent that I have/own. And people can do that too. I just hate it when I see people who defend the church on this and that, but won’t do what the church preaches. They call out atheists, rich people, and non-Catholics for their material possessions, but somehow the two-faced people believe that volunteering a few hours a month in a soup kitchen is enough cancellation for them to keep their goods in the eyes of God.

          • musiciangirl591

            but you just said in your last comment you had possessions…..

          • Will

            I’m not going to give away what I’ve worked my ass to off to have. I have no gold, no riches, no superfluous amounts of money sitting around. Feel free to sell your house, your car, your everything to give it to the poor. Go for it. I will keep what I have worked to have.

          • musiciangirl591

            i don’t have a car, renting at the moment…

          • Will

            All I’m saying is that a church should do what it expects its followers to do. And not on a local level but a global one.

  • Lena

    You all have it wrong. Charity is not all about money. Yes, certainly, money must exist. However, the real charity is in teaching a man to fish, to build, to discover, to become self sufficient, not giving him food and money today. So regardless of the silver and gold, the injustices would still exist among us, and the Church, I believe, would still be working to relieve those (at least some of those).
    It’s about mission, it’s about people. Money isn’t everything. The moment you think it is, you become blind to the truth.

    • ColdStanding

      Teach not how to build a ship. Teach that there is the deep and wide ocean, and the “how to” will follow.

      • Lena

        This assumes too much. That all humans have equal opportunity. And we know this is not true.

        • ColdStanding

          All human’s have equally available to the opportunity of a close and love-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. Who, then, cares about stinking “equal opportunity”?

          • Lena

            Do you really think so? You’re telling me that the abducted child-soldiers of Souther Sudan had the same opportunity to know and love Christ as the priveleged youth in the United States? I think not.

          • ColdStanding

            Well, the youth in the USA would be at a distinct disadvantage, so, point to you.

          • Lena

            We’re not talking about choice here, we are talking about opportunity. Are you from the United States?

  • Laura

    And if we sold all the art and gold the Church owned, only the rich would ever experience it. That is the greater poverty.

  • spirtblessed

    Yes, this is true, but Mark you don’t go far enough. I have been poor and I can testify that one of the true miseries of poverty is the utter lack of beautiful things. When I go into a beautiful church I know that altho I am struggling to find my daily bread, that bread only lasts an instant. Here in the church are beauties that feed my soul and that belong to ME, part of my Catholic patrimony, are truly MINE in every important way. I need not envy anyone for I have enough for all to feast. And I feast also on the love and devotion that went into fashioning that beauty for the glory of God.
    Envy is an ugly ugly sin. Modern bare churches are ugly and they seem to flaunt a miserly ingratitude. It is as if the congregation were saying to the poor-and to God-”I have my own beautiful things and all you get is the leftovers.”

  • Beauty and Truth

    An excellent point made here: the structures of the church exist for the benefit of all. Very often the “opulence” of traditional churches reflect the pride and sacrifice of its congregation to build an edifice worthy of the worship of God.
    The arguments against building this way stem from two particularly American ways of looking at the world: the “either/ or” nature of our thinking, and the radical functionalism we seem to prefer.
    Regarding the first point: The argument seems to be, “you can EITHER build beautiful places OR you can serve the poor.” (This seems to be the percieved distinction between “Liturgy Catholics” and “Social Justice Catholics” as well.) The Church, as in so many things, is a “both/ and” institution; Catholics ought see no reason that both should not occur simultaneously.
    Secondly, our functionalism demands that as long as physical needs (roof on the church; plain walls) are met, everything else is extraneous/ unnecessary/ superfluous. The Catholic position is deeper and more nuanced, and is concerned with spiritual nourishment as well as physical. Churches might be the only place in the lives of many poor people to ever encounter beauty or transcendence. Again, the both / and argument: if you’re only meeting physical needs (obviously first, obviously important) you’re only providing half of that person’s needs; you are not feeding the whole person.

  • l j hippler

    Beautifully said.

  • Ethel Agnes

    The first Christians began the first hospitals caring for those who could not care for themselves. We (and as a member of the Church I say we) continue to have the largest hospital system in the United States, if not the world, and accept people of all faiths. Outside the Federal government, Catholic schools – on all levels – teach more children in our schools and graduate many more students than public institutions. We run orphanages, homes for the aged, AID facilities, and much much more – and in no instance that I know of do we ask people for their bank statements or their religious affiliation prior to accepting them into any institution.

    Can more be done – always. But, we have basically nothing to be too ashamed of.

  • John

    Many people do not get the purpose of churches as sacred spaces. They should teach about God and reflect our attitude towards him. They should also have an eschatological dimension (which sadly is lacking even more now that ad orientem worship is so rare…). In this respect, we should look at Revelation 21:11-21, where the New Jerusalem is described. Is it a box room with white walls and a couple of chairs?
    Churches should reflect their origins (Judaism, early Christianity, medieval Christianity) and where they’re headed (the New Jerusalem).
    Also, though literacy is higher than it used to be, pictures, image, and stained glass still reach a greater audience.

    Finally, bishops and cardinals don’t own or live in fancy churches – they belong to everyone…

  • Elizabeth

    What about the purpose of having such extravagant churches, etc for the glory of God? To give God a physical place that is splendid, though He has no need of it of course and it is human’s very insignificant offering to Him. Does that play into the argument at all?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1805501290 Mary Neuses O’Brien

    How do you sell the Sistine Chapel? Who will buy that chair shown in the picture and take it home? Really?

    • Jacob Suggs

      And even if someone did buy that chair, wouldn’t the same argument be made that they should sell it to someone else and donate the money? The stuff’s got to live somewhere, and better somewhere where it can be put to the benefit of all than somewhere where it can’t.

  • http://twitter.com/MasterThiefEsq J.D. Locke

    These people remind me of Judas. You know, John chapter 12, where Judas makes the same “Why don’t you sell this and give it to the poor” demand of Jesus? (Not because Judas cared about the poor, but because he was on the take and was helping himself to the money for the poor…) To quote from Msgr. Pope: “Beware the poverty of Judas!”

  • Miss Che

    I am a convert to the Catholic Church. For decades I contributed my “widow’s mite” to the collection plates that would eventually be joined with those of many others to pay for those stained glass windows and gold crucifixes, hand embroidered clerical robes and pipe organs suitable for concert halls in quality.
    In my fifties I became both unemployed and homeless. For years I lived in shelters and when they weren’t available I slept in a tent in the woods. I ate at the soup kitchens and wore donated clothes from local churches. Every Sunday I attended Mass at the smallest cathedral in the nation. When I looked up at those ornate windows and beautiful marble statues, when I breathed in the incense and sat bathed in candlelight held high by gold candlebras, I never once thought to myself that those things should have been sold so that I could afford a burger at the local fastfood restaurant.
    Instead I opened my heart and mind in prayer and thanked God that He had inspired my brothers and sisters to take care of me in my time of need and that they had provided through their donations such a beautiful home for He and I to come together in. I was grateful then. I am grateful now.
    I can say it with the authority of personal experience. Marc is right. We don’t live by bread alone. The beauty of the church serves a purpose that is elevated beyond mere appreciation. It lifts us up beyond the idolization of mammon and turns our minds and hearts to the one who created it. It was that beauty that led me to the Church and through her to the Lord who called her into being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1640074522 Joseph Jablonski

    It’s important to specify a bit more why those abuses in the past and which will happen aren’t the end of the world. Great article though. Happens all the time.

  • beckymozart

    The irony is that many of those starving children pictures we see are starving, not because there is not enough food, but because oppressive governments cause artificial poverty. All the gold in the world sent to those countries would just enrich the government. It is the Catholic Church who fights the ideological fight against the socialism and communism that cause famine, like these false ideas did in Ethiopia and Cambodia in the 70′s. It is also the Catholic Church who creates the safe haven for charitable donations to actually get to the poor. For example, the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean years ago devastated poor areas. The money sent by Americans to Catholic charities actually made it to the people. The money given to the government was spent kicking the poor off their prime beach property and turning it into tourist areas. The Catholic Church could give all its property away, but that would not do a fraction of the good the Church does just by being right.

  • Montague

    Old Testament Temple, Tabernacle (with the spoils of Egypt) : ) And the costly perfume as well that Mary M. poured for Christ.

    Keep Up the good Work, Marc!

    By the way you totally ripped Chesterton again. Kudos.

  • Milites Domini!

    J+M+J
    The Churches’ adornments, gold, etc. around the world are not for man or for his enjoyment. They are for God, for His House! Nothing is too much for God! As for the Vatican and our Holy Father, do some research, educate yourselves and realize they are not swimming in wealth. Priests, bishops cannot have a modest pay? Why? This is nothing more than ignorance as usual, misguided Catholics and others that indulge in criticizing the Church.

  • Chi

    The whole idea of even conceiving selling the precious metals in the Church to feed the poor is as outrageous as it is reducing church buildings to a level of triviality! Are those church property responsible for the societal poverty? The materials found in those church buildings have been acquired over time and made as they presently are as a physical show of man’s reverence to the presence of God in those physical temples of God’s abode, the church buildings. This is the least we can do to respect God’s presence in an edifice we dedicate to Him! We all live in houses and each of us strives to make those places as decent as possible! We have places of abode for our nations’ presidents, prime ministers, or even monarchs. Do we make those edifices to look like pigsties or completely laid back to avoid the appropriate lusters commensurate with the high offices occupied by these people? If we don’t do that, then why must we even ever conceive stripping the church buildings of man’s show of respect to the presence of God?

    • Lena

      Amen.

  • J

    i agree with the church’s position, but don’t think you explained it well at all. if the starving child on the right were asked if he prefers a loaf of bread or to walk to Rome where he can enjoy the basilicas that are for him, too, I’d venture to guess he’d prefer to be fed than to sustain a gold-leaf basilica in europe which he will never see. strengthen the argument.

  • Raúl

    The scriptural argument i like is after judas scorns the woman for breaking the vial of expensive perfume Jesus tells him to pipe down, that it’s proper to do that.

  • jacobhalo

    Yes, the poor will always be with us. Since I went to grammar school in the 50′s to when I graduated High school in the 60′s we were always collecting money for the the-called pagan babies of Africa. Today, I don’t see any improvement of the poor on that continent.

  • Hank M.

    Have run into this many times. In reply have said that this does not represent just wealth but also belief and devotion. Also this is part of the national heritage of the various countries that these churches serve and the people would not stand for any looting for somebody’s political agenda. What really shuts down the critics is when I mention that all of the great art museums should have fire sales because the secular sector should lead the way in helping the poor and needy. Boy. do the complainers get quiet real fast.!!

    • Bill

      The complainers shouldn’t get quiet at this point. On the contrary, they should say, “Thank you for making my point. You are equating your church — lower-case ‘c’ — to a museum, a place that celebrates the glories of the past. A place that exhibits exactly the kind of pride that we, as Christians, are warned about. Isn’t it one of the fundamentals of our Church — upper-case ‘C’ this time — that we are to rise above such things, and ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God’?”

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Not to mention, given the true level of worth the Church has since the Vatican lost control of the Papal states, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find the Pope’s throne painted with Iron Pyrite.

  • Thomas R

    I think this is largely a good point and yet I think a case could be made that you can make a beautiful church that’s not super-expensive. I mean I don’t oppose well decorated churches with gold and such, building such churches can even get people jobs and construction jobs are really hurting, but I guess a part of me could see an argument that you can go too far. That you don’t need gold just everywhere if some other metal can be pretty much as aesthetically pleasing. I don’t know maybe I’m not saying this right, because I actually also get annoyed by this criticism of the Church.

  • Momofthree

    I think the selling the possessions and giving to the poor has another
    meaning. The “Eye of the Needle” passage is meant to illustrate that
    the possessions and material wealth actually harm the owner in a
    spiritual way. When you live in a fine house, with lots of material
    comforts, in a wealthy community, you are isolated from the poor and
    their needs. It is impossible to empathize (truly) with people that are
    distant from you. When you live among the poor, or work closely with
    them and form relationships with them, you come to see them as humans
    much like yourself, and you are better able to get involved and truly
    “love” them as Jesus asked. Also, if you spend most of your time
    thinking about wealth and objects and finery, you become consumed with
    these thoughts, and run the risk of turning them into idols. Then you
    will not have time to think about forming meaningful relationships with
    people. Of course many successful businessmen are able to build large
    companies that provide useful services to people, but their minds should
    always be focused on the business as a means to an end; a way of
    providing needed services and giving honest work to support families.
    Or as a means of creating beauty or discovering Truth. The minute they
    start obsessing about growth as a means to personal power and control,
    they run the risk of spiritual decline….always a temptation for the
    smart, ambitious and efficacious among us.

  • Billybagbom

    Hey, Marc! You got something against abstinence? Why are you so negative about the Evangelical approach? I would have thought that Catholics and Eastern Orthodox could agree with our Protestant brethren that promiscuity is wrong (in the classic sense of the word “wrong”). What point are you trying to make with your critique of such programs as Promisekeepers, etc.? You got something against keeping promises?

  • Billybagbom

    You switched blogs in the middle of my comment! Great! I look like an ignorant arse, and you come up smelling like roses.

  • Janis V

    If using as much gold and wealth to build large churches and plate thrones with gold is useful to the poor, then double or triple the amount of gold and wealth to highlight these cathedrals and basilicas.

  • ounbbl

    “The visible wealth is for the poor.” – Fascist and socialiast propaganda; it has nothing to do with what the Scripture says.

    • Andrew Patrick

      It would be an odd socialism that was a fan of visible wealth.

  • mike

    This is utter, shameful tripe. The author should be deeply, deeply ashamed of herself. If you think there is any excuse for the lords of the church to sit in comfort surrounded by gold and claim to love the starving poor, you are simply of low moral character. “Make sense? The visible wealth — the very stuff that sets people complaining — is for the poor.” No, it doesn’t make any damned sense. You actually think starving children need an ornate church they will never see more they they need a fucking sandwich? The mind boggles.

    Oh, by the way, Mother Theresa did no good works. She set up what she called “hospitals” that were actually abattoirs where the sick could come to die with no care whatsoever. Her sub-cult believed, and doubtless it makes sense to one so immoral as you, that suffering for humans brought them closer to Christ. It’s sick, and even more sick is the undue adulation this woman receives.

    • Andrew Patrick

      So I assume you live in an van down by the river, and no one in your neighborhood has ever been short a sandwhich. Because any wealth you have is stealing from the poor. Especially if anyone else can see it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ULW7SGFXFUGL4VOORTIUDNNRJM BrunoD

    The Catholic Church does not need to sell its gold They have it. They own it. They all have beautiful edifices. But now that they have it all, why don’t they help the poor? How much more will they get before they help the poor?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ULW7SGFXFUGL4VOORTIUDNNRJM BrunoD

    The Catholic Church is categorized as a charitible organization. That is why they pay no taxes. So why aren’t they more charitable? If they are in fact a business, they should pay taxes.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ULW7SGFXFUGL4VOORTIUDNNRJM BrunoD

    Why is it when a poor person goes to Sunday mass in search of spiritual courage to endure their lot in life, why do they have to hear the pastor ask for more money so that their edifice can get a new A/C system? How is this being charitable?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ULW7SGFXFUGL4VOORTIUDNNRJM BrunoD

    Churches do not need more money. They already have beautiful edifices and golden chalices. They’re downright wealthy. Now, more than ever they have to prove the reason they exist. Help the poor.

  • Aaron Hebert

    What a great article! I love it when “The Onion” clowns on people like that. It’s a good thing Catholics don’t really think that starving people are better served by looking at someone else’s gold building than by eating food! Or that the only alternative for that money would be to throw it around to homeless people instead of investing it in shelters or food banks! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, you would have to be one psychotic, self important, sadist, to really justify such inequity! “When Jesus said give to he poor, you have to take it context, like how now it’s not as okay to sell your daughters any more. But not like gay sex, that’s wrong every place, everytime!” Oh my god, I lolled so hard!! Oh, dear. You’re serious aren’t you? :|

  • Richard, The Lionhearted

    The problem is and always will be the introduction of ‘laity’ in regards to the ‘priesthood’. Thank you Constantine. All believers are Priests ( 1 Peter 2), and there is only ONE (1)High Priest, Christ Himself. Until the masses are re-educated from this centuries cemented heresy, there truly is no hope. As Good Catholic Girl pointed out, the ‘laity’ otherwise needs to put up and shut up in the face of the Magesterium according to CCC and Canon Code Law.

  • Thoughts

    I have yet to find the justification or reasoning for those who vow to follow Jesus’ steps and live like Jesus lived, all while surrounding themselves in gold. The post points out the salaries of these priests, etc. However, what are their expenditures? There is a contradiction of what is preached: to be humble, to live like Jesus did, etc. There is a reason why when Jesus was born, he was born in a manger by animals and hay…not a castle adorned with gold.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1554330059 Rae Marie
  • Divvy2012

    I’m really sorry, I know this article is more than a year old, but…
    *Popes, not Pope’s (end of the penultimate paragraph).
    Just read your Bad Catholic Drinking Game too – do I get a shot for reporting that slip of the typing finger?


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