The Economist Estimates the Catholic Church Spent $171,600,000,000 in 2010

The Economist has attempted to paint a picture of what the Catholic Church’s finances look like, especially in light of the sexual abuse scandals. I’ll admit it. I may have salivated a bit at this paragraph:

By studying court documents in bankruptcy cases, examining public records, requesting documents from local, state and federal governments, as well as talking to priests and bishops confidentially, The Economist has sought to quantify the damage.

They estimate that the church spends about $171,600,000,000 a year. Not a typo.

The Economist estimates that annual spending by the church and entities owned by the church was around $170 billion in 2010 (the church does not release such figures). We think 57% of this goes on health-care networks, followed by 28% on colleges, with parish and diocesan day-to-day operations accounting for just 6% and national charitable activities just 2.7% (see chart). In total, Catholic institutions employ over 1m people, reckons Fred Gluck, a former McKinsey managing partner and co-founder of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, a lay organisation seeking to improve the way the church is run. For purposes of secular comparison, in 2010 General Electric’s revenue was $150 billion and Walmart employed roughly 2m people.

Wow. You knew the Church had money… but that much?!

Where does it all come from? Offering plates, donations, tuition money, Medicare/Medicaid payments, and other investments.

I thought that the sexual abuse scandal payouts would at least put a dent in their budget. Turns out it’s only a small fraction of it and most of the payments are made by local dioceses and not the Vatican:

The molestation and rape of children by priests in America has resulted in more than $3.3 billion of settlements over the past 15 years, $1.3 billion of that in California. The total is likely to increase as more states follow California and Delaware in relaxing the statute of limitations on these crimes, most of which were reported long after they happened. For an organisation with revenues of $170 billion that might seem manageable. But settlements are made by individual dioceses and religious orders, whose pockets are less deep than those of the church as a whole.

One of the consequences of the dioceses paying these costs is that some of them have gone out of business and more will likely follow:

Over the past eight years, a combination of these stresses has driven eight dioceses (including San Diego, Tucson and Milwaukee) to declare bankruptcy, as well as the American arm of the Irish Christian Brothers and a regional branch of the Jesuits. More of America’s 196 dioceses could be forced to do the same. Efforts are under way in the legislatures of Arizona, Illinois, New York, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California (again) to extend statutes of limitations, according to Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who represents many victims of abuse. If any of these efforts succeeds, the expectation among lawyers like Mr Anderson is that some of the affected dioceses would seek Chapter 11 protection while they attempt to settle the cases. (Troubled dioceses generally settle suits just before the bishop is due in court.) The diocese of Honolulu could be the next to go bankrupt. In May it was hit by a pair of new lawsuits after the extension of Hawaii’s statute of limitations for victims of abuse.

The article also notes that there isn’t a long line of future priests, donations are dropping, and pensions are underfunded. All of that means the future doesn’t look very good for the Church.

There’s only one thing left to do:

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Stev84

    This again shows that churches’ much vaunted charity is usually only a miniscule amount of their total expenses.

    • Normandyso

       Gotta keep the korpulent kweens in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.

  • Guest

    Yep.  There’s nothing I would like to see happen more than a global institution that gave over 100 billion dollars to healthcare and charity go under.  The enlightened 21st century: where no amount of human suffering and loss is more important than winning an ideological argument; the first century in the last half millennium that would give medieval peasants something to laugh at. 

    • Lavvie

      …..did you not read the article? This author actually pointed out at least one huge thing (the child molestation scandal) that the Catholic church has done to hurt people and of course there are many many more ways that this site and many others have pointed out that the Catholic church has done actual harm to people. This isn’t just about ideology, this is about real people and real lives affected. Also, there are other secular charities that people could donate to that probably could really use it and could do it in ways that do not have the horrible consequences that donating to the Catholic church brings.

      • Guest

        Yeah, because these are such unbiased and objective appraisals of the Catholic Church.  Try reading other sources.  Going to places like these to see how the Catholic Church has done is like going to a Nuremburg Rally to find out the contributions of Jewish people to Western Civilization.

        • jdm8

          Did you or your health care plan pay for the hospital services? Unless they gave you the care and did not take any payment for it, it’s not a gift or donation.

          Speaking of which, what has the Catholic Church done about the Final Solution? Very little, actually. They made deals to save their necks in exchange for silence on the matter.

          • NeedingMoreFacts

            “Did you or your health care plan pay for the hospital services? Unless they gave you the care and did not take any payment for it, it’s not a gift or donation.”

            Wouldn’t it be implied that if this person used their own money or healthcare plan to pay for the hospital services, then they didn’t (probably) need charity?

            You know, some people *can* take care of themselves.

            • jdm8

              It would help to go up the comment chain for context.  Guest originally said:

              “There’s nothing I would like to see happen more than a global institution that gave over 100 billion dollars to healthcare and charity go under. ”

              Suggesting that providing the health care was some kind of charitable act.

            • Leah Elzinga

              Being “able” to re-mortgage your home to pay for health services is NOT the same thing as not needing help.  The implication that needing/accepting help in what is often an impossible situation is somehow “less than” is offensive.  When was the last time that you had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital fees?  Until you find yourself  in that position, probably best not to judge.  And to be clear, isn’t that a basic tenet of christianity: Judge not, lest ye be judged ?  I might be an atheist, but it’s tough to argue that logic.

          • Swiftright Right

            You should probably actually read up on that.

            Catholics were second only after Jews when you look at people who were killed by the Reich because of faith. For instance after the Pope issued Mit Brennender Sorge 1200 nuns, priests and laypeople were rounded up and sent to Dachau with in 1 month thats almost 10% of the leadership of the church dead in 1937.

            Oh and those “deals” are called the ReichsKordat. They were signed in 1933 years before anyone had any clue what was going to happen.

        • Tom

           You were happy enough to use the figures in these appraisals for your own argument.

        • Gus Snarp

          The Economist is not exactly known as a liberal, religion-hating rag. If they’re not an unbiased source on this, I don’t know what is.

        • Patterrssonn

          Sorry Guest but ranty nutty bullshit like that won’t get you too far on this site.

        • RobertoTheChi

          You can not be serious about the Catholic Church not causing harm. Have you never heard of the horrible things they’re doing in Africa with peddling the “condoms don’t stop diseases” bullshit? The harm they are causing women with their archaic beliefs? I could go one, but surely you have heard of all of these things.

          • fergalf

            Any scientific proof? It is an urban myth that the CC spreads HIV in Africa.

      • Stev84

        You know Catholic Charities? They have a 4.6 billion dollar budget. Almost 3 billion of that is paid for by the federal government. Only the miniscule amount of 140 million actually comes directly from the church.

        It’s the same with Catholic hospitals, which are largely funded with tax payer money. For that the church then demands to be exempt from all laws they don’t like. Religious-based charity and social services are horrible since they come with far too many negative consequences.

        • Swiftright Right

          I work at one of those horrible Catholic hospitals and in 2 hours I will be caring for 12 people 9 of which have complicated comorbidities who’s care cost exceeds what the government pays for.

          At ANY for profit facility they would be down graded from Avelox to Cipro (220$ IV antibiotic Vs less effective 18$ antibiotic) and they would be getting the JACHO standard Basic wound care which costs about $80 per day instead of Aggressive therapy that costs $328 per DAY. At my facility that extra 13500 per month per person is funded directly by the Catholic church and that’s just 9 people in 1 unit of 1 wing of 1 facility.

          Oh and your number are of. Catholic Charities Medical mission in the US has a budget of 4.87 billion of which 2.1 billion comes from the Fed 1.83 comes from varios investments, endowments and direct donations and 140 million comes from diocesan churches IE tossing money in the hat at church.

    • jdm8

      If you think all that health care is a gift to the world, I think I have some bridges to sell you at a cut rate.

      The actual charitable expenditures is not even 5% of the budget outlay.

      • Guest

        So that’s 5% of a multi-billion dollar annual budget you’re willing to see go down the tubes? And what about that healthcare.  My youngest children were born in a Catholic hospital – and we weren’t Catholic!  But it had about the best care of any in the region.  Gone.  Puff!  Nice to see tolerant and open-minded atheists are still out and about.

        • Gus Snarp

          And how much did you/your insurance company pay the hospital? Catholic health care is not a charity, it’s a business. Show me where Catholic hospitals are cheaper or are reducing cost in any way over any other hospital system. And let’s be clear, if the Catholic Church went bankrupt they would sell the hospitals and they would continue to operate in much the same way they do now.

          As for the 5% down the tubes, how much of what’s donated to the Church goes out in actual services versus how much is spent on administrative and other functions? What’s the efficiency of the charity? I’m thinking it’s pretty bad. If the only argument you’ve got for the Catholic church is that it motivates people to donate money to charity, can you show that it drives enough donations to be worth how much of that money it spends on other things? If all those people who currently give to the Catholic Church no longer had a Catholic Church to give to, would they stop giving entirely? Or would they still give enough that when given to more efficient charities it would more than make up for that 5%?

          • Susan

            There are Catholic hospitals that do charge. If you couldn’t afford it, you wouldn’t go. There are also FREE Catholic hospitals that the poor attend and will give care when needed. We have one in my hometown. 

        • Stev84

          You really need to learn how health care, hospitals and health insurance work

          • Leah Elzinga

             or the Catholic-run pharmacy in my town that refused to sell birth control.  Very helpful, thank you.  Conscientious rights = fun times.

            • Susan

              Not selling birth control is the Catholic Churchs constitutional right. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. They don’t force you to go to their pharmacy. 

              • Leah Elzinga

                the pharmacy was not run by the Catholic church, simply by Catholics. It was the only pharmacy in town and the only one for 28km. So is it my understanding that I should not be allowed access to something that is my RIGHT and should LEAVE the community I was born and raised in, because someone feels uncomfortable providing that government-sponsored service? And to be clear, that pharmacy ended up shutting down and leaving the town, including it’s many elderly citizens completely without. This same town also did not have a public school option, ONLY a Catholic one, which was deemed unconstitutional. But again, I was told “If you don’t like it, LEAVE.” NO. We changed the SYSTEM, and we STAYED in the community that we were raised in, thank you very much. But hey, thanks for that very Christian attitude.

                • Swiftright Right

                  You made that up, The only pharmacy in 28 kilometers? kilometers? And this unnamed “town” only has one catholic pharmacy and the only school is a catholic school?

                  And even with a total pharmaceutical monopoly they closed up and left?!?

                • Leah Elzinga

                  Legal, Alberta, Canada. Feel free to confirm before making assumptions. It and it’s sister community of Morinville were in the national Canadian news throughout last year because of the anomaly that was their school system. Though Morinville was granted a public school, Legal schoolchildren are still expected to bus an hour cross-country into Morinville if they would like a non-faith based education. Why would I make it up?? Seriously, here’s the link to the town’s website with the list of local businesses: If you’re going to troll, at least bothering checking your facts.

                • maurice444

                  oh my God…. as a Canadian, I feel so ashamed of you… Alberta is so religious and traditional… I think you’d fit more in Atheist Vancouver, not in Christian Alberta

                • Leah Elzinga

                  Oh, don’t worry, I don’t need to “fit in” ;)

                • fergalf

                  They have the liberty to refuse to sell that stuff. Its their call not yours.

                • Leah Elzinga

                  I never implied that it wasn’t their call. It’s completely within their rights not to sell something. And it’s completely within my rights to say that, while legal, that decision was WRONG. There are plenty of things that are perfectly legal that are not kind, or respectful, or responsible. They were also perfectly within their rights to shut their doors despite the devastating effect to the community, especially to it’s senior citizens. That doesn’t make it “right”.

                • fergalf

                  Exercising one’s conscience is always “right” actually.

                • texasjo

                  Did you get your pills? Is there a pharmacy there now? You can always send for any pill over the net! You know nothing of a “Christian” attitude.

                • Leah Elzinga

                  I had to drive to the nearest city. No, there is still no pharmacy. There is also no doctor because every doc they’ve approached considers a working pharmacy to be a prereq to opening a practice. No, I would not buy pills over the internet (SERIOUSLY???). Lastly, I’m confused by the logic that would combine your advice to buy birth control over the internet with my “knowing nothing”.

                • texasjo

                  Christian attitude, you say they would glad for someone to die in their hospital by refusing them an operation. Many people buy their pills on the net. Sometimes you need a perscription, sometimes not. You are in Canada? That’s where they sell the pills. And, sometimes they send to India for them. Big Pharma doesn’t want people to know this, so they say they are not as good. But, they are fine. Just Google for the address of one, or put the medicine in the box of Google, they will direct you to where they are sold..

                • 3lemenope

                  I too would certainly object to the “gladly” part of “Many Catholic hospitals would have gladly let her die.” It’s a needless assignment of malevolent intent, and probably not accurate in most cases.

                  Thing is, if you take that word out, it doesn’t make anything better, since at the end of the day it is still an alleged purveyor of medical care making a conscious choice to let someone die that could be saved. How could the state of mind of the doctor who made that decision possibly matter? He or she could do it weeping and bawling and gnashing teeth, and that would not negate any consequence of the decision to abrogate a fundamental ethical duty.

                • texasjo

                  The doctors do not make the choice. It is the choice of the patient. They tell them they must make a choice, because the delivery isn’t going right, and you must make the choice of your life or your baby’s life. There is one “Saint,” who was a doctor, who also chose her baby’s life over hers as the delivery not going right, but SHE made the choice. She died. I saw where the grown up child visited the Pope later. I wish the mother, who was a doctor and had other children had not died. Wherever did you hear the doctor will not try to save the life of a patient who must have the death of her baby in order to live? It is just Catholic custom to chose life of the baby and hope both come out alive. However, the patient decides. Not the doctor. He can do nothing without her consent.

                • 3lemenope

                  The doctors do not make the choice. It is the choice of the patient. They tell them they must make a choice, because the delivery isn’t going right, and you must make the choice of your life or your baby’s life.

                  False. Most doctors do what you describe. Those working at Catholic hospitals are generally not allowed to. The decision is made for the patient.

                  It is just Catholic custom to chose life of the baby and hope both come out alive.

                  It may be Catholic “custom”, but it flies in the face of fundamental ethical duty as understood by the medical profession. When a person ends up in a hospital (and often have no control over the religion of the hospital they end up in) their reasonable expectation is to be treated by doctors applying medical rules, not the doctor’s personal religious rules/customs or those of hospital management.

          • Susan

            The Catholic Church allows emergency abortions under drastic measures to save the life of the mother. However, being a single mother myself with two children, if I were in that situation, I would allow my child to be born. Again, if you don’t like how that institution is run, go somewhere else. You weren’t forced to go to that hospital. 

          • Swiftright Right

            I am a nurse at a faculty were I currently do direct care.

            In the past I have worked in billing of 2 hospitals, I have worked as a negotiator with various insures and have helped write Standards of Care which includes a hard calculation of cost of care. I served 1 year on an ethics board who’s main job was deciding who would get care they could not afford and at what cost to the facility. Prior to being a nurse I worked in pharmacy were I handled billing. In short I DO know quite a bit about how “Health care, hospitals and health insurance work.”

            I also know a bit about Catholic Charities and I know that out of every dollar donated they spend 89 cents on rent assistance (which I received in nursing school) food and uncovered medical expenses.

        • Eric

          Again, “the trains ran on time” excuse.

          Also, pleas to anecdote mean nothing.

    • Eric

      Ah yes, the old “at least the trains ran on time” argument.

    • Silo Mowbray

       “…where no amount of human suffering and loss is more important than winning an ideological argument;”

      AAAAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Oh, such sweet, deep, rich irony.

  • Alexander Ryan

    We’re several trillion dollars in debt, but the Government would rather add taxes to the poor and common items than to the religious. 

    • Normandyso

       Not the Federal Government, the Rethuglikons in Congress, who are totally owned by the corporatocracy.

  • Yogibier

    And I guess the atheists would put together the money to buy the vatican?
    Are we talking about the people who didn´t even get enough SIGNATURES under a petition to get the US government to take an interest?

    Yeah, sounds practicable!

    • Patterrssonn

      I think it would be perfect for Disney, probably the Vaticans biggest competitor in the marketing of fantasy.

      • Daniel

        Outside of yourself, you mean.

        • Pattrsn

          Very pithy and it only took you 6 months.

  • advancedatheist

    The Catholic Church shouldn’t even exist, according to creationist reasoning. All the Catholics should have evolved into Protestants by now. 

    • Daniel

      That’s just stupid.

    • Swiftright Right

      To bad the Catholic church is the biggest provider of evolutionary education outside of the federal gov in America because other wise your attempt to portray the Church as just another group of evangelicals would have worked

  • The Other Weirdo

    So, out of a budget of $171bn , charities account for $4.7bn? Tell me where the good works are that justify its continued tax-exempt status?

    • László

      and you forget to read that more then 50% percent goes to health care networks:))) 

  • Guest081712

    Found a seller on spreadshirt that is trying to spread the message.

  • SJH

    So by my calculations:

    4.7% donated to charities
    48.8% used as on education (also charity)
    57.5% used as health services (also charity)

    So that is 88.6% used for charity

    Not to mention the amount of money given to charities by every parish which would be included in the “Parishes/diocese” number which is roughly 6.4% of the total.
    The “Other” portion of the graph states that it includes private school education which would also be a charity.

    So lets say that only 10% of the “parish” and “other” numbers are charity (it is probably more).

    This means that the Catholic Church only keeps about 10% of its income and spends the rest on charity.

    Using the numbers provided it seems that we should all encourage the Church and its mission.

    • Kari Lynn

      Um, no.

      If you have to pay for the education and health care, it is not charity. I have never seen a Catholic school or hospital just giving things away for free. Anecdote: My best friend went to the University of Detroit (Catholic), tuition was outrageous and she even got a discount + scholarships. She joined the Army to cover the rest of her expenses.

      • NeedingMoreFacts

        So, what you’re saying is, if a charity gives someone $100 to cover their food for one month, and the same person spends $50 to cover the rest, that’s not charity? 

        • Gus Snarp

          Can you show me that there is a charitable contribution covering 75% of patient expenses in Catholic hospitals or or tuition at Catholic universities?

          • NeedingMoreFacts

            Actually, it’s 66ish%.

            • Gus Snarp

              Pedantry is no replacement for facts. Do you have the financial data to back up those numbers or did you make them up out of thin air and they have no relationship whatsoever to reality?

              • Eugene Edward Yeo

                Ah, so we’re asking for sources now? Tell me, where are the sources sited in this article?

                That’s right, there are none. They “estimate”.

                In other words, they “guess”. Shameful.

                • pcraig

                  The source is included in a link in the first paragraph. It came from an article in “The Economist”. Did you read this article?

      • SJH

        Just because you have to pay for something does not mean that the institution is not a charity. Often times the price paid does not cover the actual cost.

        According to the chart, health care and education are expenses not income. Isn’t that the point of the chart to represent how much money the Church spends on these items. The Church is spending money on caring for the health of people and educating people. How is that not charity?

        • SandbagsMC

          Every single private school in our county save 2 are church run.  They collect on average 30% more per student in income than the 2 commerial (for profit) private schools charge.  Some of the schools are more profitable than the church associated with them.  Some of them put on ELABORATE public free events just to spin off income such to maintain their non-profit status.  Their instructors are paid on average 40% higher than public school teachers and enjoy greatly increased benefits.  No, their expenses on schools are rarely charity.  Their helthcare expenses are also largely specific to their employees, and to the numerous not-for-profit hospitals they run, yet, each of the 2 chuch-run hospitals in this county have better equipment, fancier facilities, and higher paid doctors than others in town.  Why?  because they’re allowed to turn away non-paying sick people at will where the public hospitals don;t require that.  Yes, they do treat lots of people for free or for little pay, but it;s SELECTIVE, where you and I subsidize the cost of everyone getting the same treatment at the county hospital only 4 blocks over and we don;t have that choice.

      • jay

        look at any non-profit hospitals expense report, you will see millions in “bad debt” aka free care

    • kagekiri

      Catholic hospitals and universities and private schools have fees and are run like businesses as far as I know; this isn’t them spending on things that aren’t also making them money.
      They’re potentially good things, sure, but they don’t qualify as “charity”.

      Otherwise, what, you’d classify paying for a hospital visit as charity to yourself? Paying your doctor is charity? Buying a bandaid is charity? Please.

      • SJH

         How is it not a charity? Someone pays for abortions at planned parenthood yet it is still considered a charity.

        Charities still have operating costs and they provide services. The doctors must still get paid (many of whom are not even catholic). Providing an institution and infrastructure where these things can take place is a charitable activity in itself.

        • Normandyso


      • tmarc

        Buying a bandaid is not charity. Helping the needy that is charity and Catholic hospitals do that. If you are not needy then you should not want a handout. Which is what it becomes if you are not poor, and mostly likely, exploiting a system that is set up to help the people that need it most. Exploiting the system takes away from the people that truly have no other way of getting care.

    • Gus Snarp

      Let me go find the itemized bill from the Catholic hospital where my kids were born and you can tell me if it looks like charity. The healthcare segment is listed in the article as health care networks. That’s the system of Catholic hospitals, outpatient clinics, and associated doctors. It is a business. Fees are charged for services, rooms, equipment, and consumables. It costs every bit as much as any other doctor or hospital. This is not the old Catholic hospital for the poor from the movies.

      Catholic universities cost more than public universities. They too are run as a business.

      Catholic schools – same.

      • NeedingMoreFacts

        Wait wait, are you saying you needed charity?  Charity is usually given to people who need it, not people who don’t need it.Not saying you didn’t need it, just wondering?

        Also, Catholic schools give scholarships to their students, and lower-income families.  Of course, I’m sure you’re against that because it’s a religious organization, and we can’t have children exposed to religion at an early age by their parents because, surely, parents know squwat about raising their own children.

        • Gus Snarp

          If I was trying to say I needed charity, I’d have said that. Please try to read the words on the screen, not what you want them to say. I am saying one thing and one thing only: Catholic hospitals, health networks, universities, and school are not charities, they are businesses.

          • Normandyso

             Gus, you are making too much sense. We love you anyways!

          • Daniel Robinson

            they are both moron. They help those who need it, they dont offer free healthcare to people like you who can afford it -_-

          • big meech

            non-profit businesses are considered charities in the economic world bro

          • tmarc

            They help those who need help. If you do not need charity then no you have to pay the regular price. All private institutions cost more than public ones not just Catholic. If they did not run like a business they would not be around long, but this business gives a lot to the poor.

          • Jacob Maloney

            Yes they are. 100% open for business. Can we take away their exempt status?

          • Fiona Reid

            Catholic hospitals are generally non-profits. Just saying. And the reason Catholic universities cost more than public universities is that they are not funded by the government. (Also, many Catholic universities, like other private universities, offer a higher standard of education than some public universities.)

        • julie

          I get scholarships from my liberal arts college, but they are most definitely not a charity!
          It’s a business. I pay them and I get an education. I greatly appreciate their scholarships and you could consider a scholarship to be a charitable act, but that does not make them a charity. That’s like calling a grocery store a charity for giving out coupons.

          • tmarc

            charity: : benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
            a : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also : aid given to those in needb : an institution engaged in relief of the poorc : public provision for the relief of the needy
            a : a gift for public benevolent purposesb : an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift
            4: lenient judgment of others (Webster dictionary)

            There are ways to do decide a for profit business and a not for profit one. Chances are your college is a not for profit one. If you received a scholarship because you are poor and in need then it is charity. If you received a scholarship because of previous performance in academics or excelled at other things then it is payment for what you will do for the school. If you do not understand the difference between a grocery store and your college or a good church then I suggest you take an economics class at your school to help you out with that.

      • mcdowell.peter

        Gus, Catholic hospitals charge people who can afford it the going rate. For the poor and illegals, they pay a very low cost or nothing at all. Most of the Catholic hospitals are non-for-profit, which is NOT a business, merely managed like a business. Peter

      • finches7

        All charities are run as a business. They have managers, administrators, rent buildings, or office space. Government sponsored education is always cheaper. When an education system is funded by Catholics, Catholics go there and pay more of course. That is just normal. If i want to start my own private school even that isn’t government subsidized, of course it is going to be a business, and if people are willing to pay for that, that is my business. There is nothing wrong with making money is there if you want to start your own private school with a religious agenda? Even Muslims have their own private schools and other religions. Are you saying that everything should be free 100%? That is way too idealistic even for an atheist. Teachers have to be paid and administrators. A private university has to hire people. A library, textbooks, paper, photocopy machines, electricity, the building has to be paid for…

    • Patterrssonn

      Did you even read the post?

    • Lucy

      Your calculations are correct. 90% of the money is used for charitable programs.
      What a church indeed.

    • Bob

      NO you schmuck, have you ever been treated at a Catholic hospital, or sent your kids to Catholic school, it isn’t charity, you pay for that. Its revenue, dollars in and dollars out.

      • texasjo

        I’ve been to good Catholic schools. In the olden days, the nuns were paid nothing, and we got a superior education. Now, not many of the teachers work just for the Lord. At one excellent school, they gave away most of the education costs to those who couldn’t afford it. Many people with money would help. We never knew who had money and who didn’t because we were young and wore uniforms.

    • 1415dr

      OK, this is really simple. I know you beleive in talking snakes, so it might be difficult for you to understand, but if you read this very carefully it might sink in.
      If I go to a Catholic hospital and pay them 1,000 dollars for treatment, and they spend 950 dollars on the procedure (to pay the doctor, buy the tools, etc.) then they made a profit of 50 dollars and SPENT 950. That is my money being filtered through the hostpital as a cost. That would be included in this chart as medical expenditure. There was no charity involved at all. If they cut my bill by 50 dollars as a charity then it would do into the charity category. Nothing in the medical category can be called chartity.
      Now go get your fucking shine box.

    • Accent

      Catholic education (despite the individuals’ contributions) is more of an investment in future funding. The more children you can indoctrinate, the more donations will accrue to the church when they start earning.
      It certainly does not qualify as a charity.

  • NeedingMoreFacts

    “They estimate that the church spends about $171,600,000,000 a year. Not a typo.”

    Hey!  That’s funny, because I know ONE guy that spent more than that in one year!  Actually, he’s spent almost $6 trillion in 4 years! 

    At least this is a worldwide church.  I love how people hang on to things like this.

    • dirtydishes23


  • Don M

    Not sure I follow the shock, or the comment about where the money comes from.  It looks like the VAST majority of the expenses comes from hospitals and universities.  That means the money comes from tuition and from patients, insurance companies, and government support of those institutions.  This doesn’t say what the income is from these operations – there could be huge profits.  I would think that the expenses of running a metropolitan hospital would be hundreds of times more than a food bank. 

    I also am not sure if these figures include work by Catholic Charities and other specific charitable organizations.  I’m also not sure if the churches are separately incorporated, and whether their spending is off these books.  Think about it: there are at least 20 Catholic Churches in my city of 300.000.  I can’t imagine that their expenses are less than several hundred thousand per church.  At that rate, the churches in the United States must take at least $50 million to run.   That’s probably a very low estimate for one country with a moderate Catholic population.   The expenses, if anything, seem small.

    What I’d like to know is how much of the money, worldwide, comes from the faithful, and what the total giving is from all organizations the members support.

    This isn’t pro or anti this budget or the Church.  I just don’t think these numbers are surprising, or particularly deplorable, or detailed enough to draw any conclusions. 

    • Gus Snarp

      This comment actually gets at the failings of the article. Catholic hospitals and universities operate mostly independently of the church, and are run as separate businesses with their own revenues and expenses. Does it even make sense to look at them as Church spending? Maybe to some extent they can be considered subsidiaries if you look at the Church as a larger business, but it’s very hard to look just at expenses and learn anything without a similar breakdown of revenues or any sense of how revenues and expenses are segregated among the various entities.

      • fergalf

        Sure but all aspects of the church run independently. The American Catholic church is finally independent of the Vatican. There is no central budget.

    • Cat lady

      I don’t understand – I thought hospitals, etc. took in enough fees and insurance and government payments to come at least close to breaking even.  If the RCC is spending in addition about 100 billion on such, they really do need some bigtime financial advice.  These figures don’t add up.

      • Stev84

        It’s possible that the money they claim they are spending isn’t theirs in the first place

      • Leah Elzinga

         These are simply the expenses associated with.  This doesn’t take into account the income that they accrue or whether they break even, make a profit, etc.  So while they might spend $98.6B I suppose there’s every chance that they are still bringing in, say $150B, resulting in a profit.

        • Jeremy Rucker

          Thank you, I think everybody is blindly disregarding the fact that this an article showing expenses, not income. I can say hey, ” of all the money I spent, I spent on charities” but not indicating how much income I made. People are too caught up in the details of what constitutes a charity, or how it all works ideologically, they’re forgetting the big picture. Nobody fucking knows where the money is going and it’s all bullshit.

  • Nazani14

    The church should sell off its health care and education assets.  I am content to see them continue to raise money to maintain  their architecture, art, and documents.

  • Scott Ferguson

    Yeah I think these assholes could afford to pay tax.

    • Daniel

      You’re right…those awful, awful nuns who renounced their entire private property to an institution.

  • geo

    The Catholic church is the biggest charity in the world.

    How many mouths do the atheists feed, again?

  • Masarweh

    sorry we you don’t say about the ware in the whole world, 2% from US army expanses its enough to feed  the whole Africa 

  • Masarweh

    sorry why you don’t say about the ware in the whole world, 2% from US army expanses its enough to feed  the whole Africa 

  • FunStats

    I wonder what are the sources for the all the figures. I am glad I stopped subscription of the magazine long ago. This make me recall the book I read long ago ‘How to lie with statistics’. you can always make statistics work for you since most people don’t know exactly how those statistics are obtained in the first place.

  • Lucy

    The 171bln is all charity under the US laws. The church kind of help the US govt in delivering services to the citizens and that the govt saves trememdous money.

  • Abean20

    The church collects money from the laity, and the laity give freely to the church because they want to have a place to practice their faith that’s well kept and beautiful. The church isn’t a government, they can’t steal the money from people at gunpoint through taxation. I really don’t understand this campaign to depict the church as some kind of greedy corporation. Any “wealth” that the church has was given to it freely by the laity, and the manifestations of those gifts are freely available to the laity at any time. Anyone can walk into a catholic church and worship there. Yes, Catholic schools and hospitals are run like businesses. But that’s how things need to run, or they can’t function. And yes, some people of the church have done horrible things; but there are 1 billion catholics, and as the church teaches, they’re all sinners. An institution comprised of people is going to have some black marks on its record, because its comprised of people. 

    Don’t get wrapped up in the idea of thinking that the church is hypocritical because the Vatican is really nice. The kind of wealth contained in the Vatican isn’t material goods that could somehow be redistributed. They’re artistic and architectural treasures, built over 2,000 years by the faithful. It’s wrong to think that the poor would somehow be better off if the Pope lived in a mud hut. That’s like thinking you could sell the Mona Lisa, and somehow that would feed a bunch of people. It makes no sense. 

    • dirtydishes23

      THIS. Thank you.

  • N M

    Wait a minute–this atheist blogger is trying to discredit the Catholic church by providing data that shows that it actually spends most of its income on healthcare, education and charities? Is Hemant Mehta a plant working for the Vatican?

  • Tim Welch

    I am not a fan of the Catholic church, but if you sold the Vatican today to feed today’s poor, how would you feed them tomorrow when you have no Vatican anymore?

    Relief efforts should focus on setting people up to take care of themselves for the long term.

    • Four More Years

      Precisely. That is what the Catholic church does on a scale larger than most can imagine.

      It is 100 times more likely for sexual abuse in the public school system than by a Catholic priest, however, the liberal press won’t publish that.

      • ohwhatfun itis

        Prove it. Cite facts

  • kB

    Can we sell the Wall street, feed the world, stop the wars and travel the universe with their money?

  • Dave Schofield

    Lots of arguments about whether that money ends up helping people down the line, and what constitutes charity, but I guess, what helps me see it clearly, is when I see the pope on the TV he’s driving through his own city, with his own private army, in a carriage made of gold, so……………..

    • fergalf

      His own city? Dude, the Vatican is 0.17 of a sq mi! The average American farm is bigger. The gold carriage belong to the Queen of England not the Pope.

  • Joe

    A non-profit organization is still a business, and it still makes money(in most cases a lot of money) what makes a business non-profit is that they spend every penny they make and at the end of the year they report a profit of $0(thus non-profit). the way they do this in the case of a hospital is they either buy new and better equipment(less likely option) or they simply give their doctors and administrators in the hospital giant bonuses, there is a third way because they are tax exempt they can donate large amounts to charities that they then use as piggy banks in the future. I find it sad that the only person that has a clue about economics is a 17 year old.

  • Ed Darrell

    Most care delivered at Catholic hospitals in the U.S. is not charity — how much of that $172 Billion was Medicare? How much insurance-paid? How much patient-paid? And how much charity?

  • yuri

    I don’t know what’s with these anti-Catholics who keep on attacking the Church. The only thing that matters is that the Catholic Church has helped more people that all the other charitable institutions grouped together. These anti-Catholics are just blinded by their hate and prejudice against the Church that’s why they refuse to see the good that the Church has done.

    • baal

      It doesn’t matter how many times I’m mowing your lawn if I’m also beating you and stealing your lunch money.

  • NecktopPC

    “A breathtakingly composed jeremiad against the folly of Neo-classical
    economics and the threats it represents to all we should hold dear.”


    • Giordano_Bruno

      Confirms the real meaning of Democracy: Two wolves and one lamb voting on what to have for lunch!

      Also confirms how clueless we are on distinguishing between crony capitalism (statism, fascism, socialism) which is built on the accumulation of debt by consumers and government and paid off with the wages of labor, and free market capitalism which is built on the investment of entrepreneurs and paid back with the sale of a successful service or product.

      In short, this film has a strong thread of truth told by people who want a bigger piece of the pie for themselves.

      Definition of a constitutional republic? The lamb is armed!

  • Sammy

    It’s interesting what you choose to leave out of your post from the article, such as: “The church is the largest single charitable organisation in the country. Catholic Charities USA, its main charity, and its subsidiaries employ over 65,000 paid staff and serve over 10 million people. These organisations distributed $4.7 billion to the poor in 2010, of which 62% came from local, state and federal government agencies.” The “data” they estimate and you salivate over, is nonetheless misleading. For example — Catholic Charities may be the largest charity for the American church, but it is far from the only Catholic charitable entity. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is huge in the US as well as local St. Vincent De Paul charity groups. Catholic Relief Services does incredible work, both in the US but mostly abroad. Last year, the Knights of Columbus donated more than $158 million to charitable needs and volunteered more than 70 million hours. I only want to point out that the authors of the original articles are painting with broad strokes and their overall figures are at best, a guess. Contrary to what stereotypes are perpetuated, authentic care and genuine love for others in their deepest need is central to Christian/Catholic belief and practice. MANY Christians fail to do this, but you’ll need to come up with a more convincing argument to undermine a religion fundamentally grounded in upholding and defending the dignity of every person. May your non-profit charitable work be blessed.

    • FTP_LTR

      ” a religion fundamentally grounded in upholding and defending the dignity of every person” except, you know, teh gays.

  • finches7

    Every charity that big has to be run as a business. You can’t have that much money and not have a system to run it. They need tax accountants, suppliers, workers, I mean come on here. You can’t be this stupid to think that they shouldn’t run it as a business. Are you kidding me? The Catholic church according to this article is the greatest supplier of charity in the world and has a great system to be able to do this.

    • colleen2

      It’s not a charity and they use US taxpayer dollars for their ‘good works’. The Catholic church has not hesitated to exploit the systemic failures of the US healthcare system and have profited greatly from it. I recently moved so that I could avoid having to rely on the Franciscans for my healthcare. They were expensive, rude and incompetent.

  • finches7

    Which charity is not run as a business?Its has become fashionable to target the Catholic church these days because of an uncritical viewing of the media. If you look at the FBI report online – 1 in every 10 men in America has sexually molested a kid. 1 in 5 girls in America are sexually molested by someone they know and usually a family member. 1 in 7 boys is sexually molested. The figures for the Catholic church concerning priests is 1-2% of the clergy doing that. When you compare that figure to the rest of the population doing it, that is small. You are always going to have molesters in society and in every organization. My sister was molested by my uncle, her friend by their grandfather, my uncle by a teacher. People should look around before they point the finger at the Church. For “celibate” clergy, the figures are pretty low compared to what is going on in people’s families and in society at large. And whose family doesn’t try to cover it up or deny it? That is just a normal psychological reaction in families and institutions. Denial is rampant when anything terrible happens. When these abuse cases happened about 30-50 years ago, nobody talked about sexual abuse back then. It wasn’t something people dealt with in courts or by families or institutions. It is only recently that these things are being openly talked about in public. THe standard procedure 30-50 years ago was to deal with this by treating the molester with a psychologist, which is what the Catholic church did. It followed a protocol that was established already in society. That is how abuse cases were deal with 30-50 years ago when this was happening. I don’t recall in the 1970s growing up even hearing about any case of sexual abuse at all in the papers or anywhere or in the courts. So, to make a judgement about the church’s dealing with the matter, is kind of ridiculous given that they followed the standard procedure back then, which was to send the molester to a psychologist/psychiatrist. It was considered to be a mental illness and it was dealt with as such. Just because we live in the days of Oprah, doesn’t mean we can apply the same thinking now to a situation that occurred 30-50 years ago when the situation clearly wasn’t the same in terms of how society dealt with these matters of sexual abuse. you have to take it from the context of the time period. That is like hating all white people now because of slavery 100 years ago. Did most of those white people know what they were doing was wrong back then? The Catholic church followed the standard procedure and that was to hand over those priests to psychiatrists/psychologists for treatment. After supposed treatment, they were allowed back to work. Nobody, even psychologists knew that pedophilia back then was not curable with therapy. They assumed it was and those priests had had therapy. I guess the psychologists deemed them ready to go back to work. The voices of those children were not taken seriously back then. Even beating kids back then was okay in society, even in the 1970s. So, to say that the CHURCH did not recognize those victims, does not make any sense, because children were not even recognized back then and any kind of sexual or physical abuse was rarely dealt with. It is only now, that these issues have gained major awareness.

  • Jeremy Rucker

    Let’s all be aware that these figures are strictly indicating what the church “spends” money on and not what kind of income they take in. Everybodys arguing on the distinction between a charity and non charity or a profit and non profit organization. Im sure they are using money for good causes and it’s great that they use it for charities and hospitals but until someone releases some figures on what the church takes in, in terms of money there will always be some questions and concerns involved.