Lets not hear another word from the Pope on matters of greed

The Vatican is laden with priceless treasures, and has an investment portfolio of around $8 billion.

The Vatican is laden with priceless treasures, and has an investment portfolio of around $8 billion

For socialists like myself, being told that profits are coming at the expense of ordinary people isn’t at all surprising.

I’m aware that market priorities and greed are obstructing efforts to fight global inequality, hunger and malnutrition.

I know that if mankind continues to exploit the earth in the interest of capital gain, the earth will respond with destruction and extinction.

However, to read last week that the head of the Catholic Church, His Holiness the Pope, has cautioned mankind against greed while urging world leaders to tackle the problem of climate change was so surprising that I was sure I was reading a parody of events.

Has Pope Francis simply forgotten his own church’s history of exploitation and self-indulgence? Is he completely unaware of the vast amount of wealth that the Catholic Church has accumulated throughout its two thousand year existence?

Indeed, we need only look inside Vatican City to get a mere glimpse into the immense wealth belonging to the church.

St. Peters Square is drenched in marble and gold. The Sistine Chapel – home to one of the most famous ceilings in the world – is only as magnificent as it is because the church had enough wealth to commission its existence.

Vatican storerooms are laden with priceless art treasures and stolen artefacts that date back to when the Romans routinely sacked and pillaged new territories.

Yes, it is hard to take the Pope seriously on the matter of greed when we see where he and his comrades live. It’s even more difficult when we see him (and his predecessors) sitting on a throne that is literally plated with pure gold.

Equally troubling though is the Vatican’s somewhat impressive investment portfolio of around $8 billion (most of which was completely tax-exempt until 2013 when the Italian government announced that the Vatican must pay taxes on their non-religious properties).

Large investments with everyone from the Rothschilds of America, Britain and France to some of the most powerful multinational corporations like Shell and General Motors, the Catholic Church has and still does benefit from a free market global economy that is solely motivated by profit.

Add the vast amount of Vatican gold ingots, medals and precious coins stored within the vaults of the U.S. Federal reserve, and it is fair to say that we shouldn’t hear another word about the human and environmental consequences of greed and the free market until the Pope has answered some fairly obvious questions.

Firstly, if eradicating global hunger and malnutrition is a primary concern of the Church, why doesn’t he send his hierarchy of princes (yes, princes!), bishops, priests, monks and nuns across the globe with all of the churches’ riches – every single cent and every piece of gold – and give that wealth to the impoverished?

That way the Vatican would be free to concentrate on what we’re told is the true essence of Catholicism – creating a personal relationship with God.

Secondly, if the Pope sincerely believes that ‘market priorities’ and the ‘primacy of profit’ are hindering the struggle against hunger and malnutrition, why isn’t he apologising for the Church’s long history of market investments?

Why isn’t he selling off every single share the Vatican owns and using that money to fight global poverty?

Until these questions are answered, the Pope should not be taken very seriously on matters of greed and the free market.

Callum Hunter is a freelance writer and human rights activist. Read more of his work here

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

26 Responses to “Lets not hear another word from the Pope on matters of greed”

  1. madasafish


    I always was taught not to preach at others until you sort out your own house.

    The obvious hypocrisy and cant of this article would be avoided if it started by criticising all those millionaire socialists in the UK. Why are they not selling all their shares and giving the money to the poor?

    When that happens then criticise others..

    Until then it’s typical hypocrisy…

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    Same argument can and will be used against anyone wealthy outside the right of course.

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    And when you stop posting on British sites rather than English ones…

  4. Peem Birrell

    Yes, sell it all. That’ll make a difference for a few weeks.

  5. Stephen Wigmore

    What utter and mindless bunk. You cannot just sell off St Peters or any of the other many priceless art treasures and heritage buildings the Catholic Church owns, as the author of this article presumably knows well. You may as well ask the British Museum to sell its priceless treasures to fund the deficit. Short-termist nonsense of the worst kind. $8 billion is not the Pope’s personal fortune. It is the combined savings of an organisation of 1 billion people. That’s about $8 a person. Hardly a grotesque level of wealth. This article is a pointless hatchet job. Ridiculous stuff.

  6. madasafish

    And when you stop being a person who criticises others but politically destroys his own vote – so is worthless.

  7. swat

    I’m praying Vatican City will open its doors to 1m migrants in time for Xmas Mass, in the spirit of Xmas present.

  8. Guest

    “My own vote”? Where am I destroying other left wingers?

    See, I’m not unlike you out to destroy anyone at all, and many of the broad left-wing policies I back have considerable support when polled for.

    The sort of destruction and violence you want is not for me. As you show yourself to be a hypocrite – by posting on British sites.

  9. Peter Martin

    Hang on a minute!

    Pope Francis, personally, can’t make the decision to privatise the Sistine Chapel or St Peter’s square. Sure, the Vatican enjoys special privileges but lets not confuse the Vatican or the Roman Catholic Church with Pope Francis himself.

    He says things like “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities”

    He’s one of us. Isn’t he? Or is that sort of comment much too left wing for today’s Labour Party?

  10. treborc1

    But of course the wealth of the catholic church is not in it’s treasure a lot of that is in the painting and the building and the bits and pieces handed to them .

    The Wealth of the catholic Church comes in it’s banking and it’s financial wing and it’s business loans and it loans to countries . Hell I’m shocked Tony Blair is not yet a director..

    But heck what does people expect when you see Charities salting away Billions for a rainy day when it’s been pouring down for years . But all religion is of course a business plain and simple

  11. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah, so you deny religious charity IS charity based on your bias. k.

    And which charities would those be? (Tip – religious status is not the from the same statute as charitable)

  12. Duckman

    This a tu quoque. Rather than attacking his arguments, you say he is a hypocrite. Well done for your fallacious argument.

  13. Mike Homfray

    Absolutely right and about time someone said it.
    The Pope may be a great improvement on Gauleiter Ratfinger but then who wouldn’t be?
    It doesn’t excuse Vatican plc and its behaviour

  14. Letthemeatcake

    This is when you, the author of this article need to wake up and realize that “climate change” is an invention of the mega wealthy multinational corporations. A con game to extort and extract more money from the increasingly poor masses everywhere while perpetrating crimes on them. GE and Siemens are just two of many multinational corporations that are making out like bandits in the so called green movement – a movement that transfers money into the pockets of the mega wealthy and comes up with nifty ideas like population control starting in countries like those of Africa that have many natural resources. Bill Gates and Al Gore are intent on ridding the planet of peasants like you and me while mining the world. Do your research and open your eyes and mind.

  15. Letthemeatcake

    No, the pope is not one of us. The peasants that espouse socialism are fools that believe words like those you quote above but have little or no regard for reality. Those that are willfully blind these days prefer to live in the hypothetical because the truth about those leaders they worship would make socialists have to see what a sham their heroes are.

  16. Letthemeatcake

    The pope is a hypocrite and does not follow Jesus but follows the world.

  17. sarntcrip


  18. sarntcrip

    Or indeed the more numerous, sanctimonious, austerity imposing, tax cuts for millionaires imposing tories many of whom wouldn’t now a hard days graft if it kicked them in the cobblers

  19. sarntcrip

    more tory central office interlopers

  20. sarntcrip

    i take it you are catholic and know him personally or are you just another bigot
    i notice you forget for instance that the church of england is the single biggest investor in the united states

  21. sarntcrip

    religions of all faiths in the uk carry out£ billions worth of social and charitable work every year, something for which they neither receive nor seek recognition.

  22. sarntcrip

    unlike the denial by the petrol-chemical lobby who constantly spend billions trying to ensure the likes of bp and exon don’t have to pat restitution for the environmental catastrophies regularly seen over the last 50 years those who seek to deny the very clear evidence of man made climate change are invariably those with vested interest in the unsustainable status quo until that is the come to frack under your house!FOR YET MORE FOSSIL FUELS Shame it’s not made from some of the old fossils who deny the reality of human made climate change , in the face of overwhelming evidence

  23. sarntcrip

    who said it did?

  24. Guest

    Keep fighting the invisible socialists.

  25. Patrick Nelson

    Personally I’m not a Catholic, but I think Pope Francis is a greatly positive global influence. I can’t see any good reason why someone would discourage him from calling people towards social justice. This article smells of a type of intolerance to me.

Leave a Reply