I have to admit that I’m not surprised by the reports that The Wall Street Journal shared with its readers indicating that the Vatican is diverting funds meant for the poor to fund itself. I’m a Christian and it appalls me whenever we find a Church or a denomination misusing the hard-earned money that Christians donate to them. It feels like a slap on the face – or worse, like fraud.
What’s the purpose of the Church? For those who are not Christians, let me explain that the real Church is the one that belongs to Jesus Christ – that is, those of us who have faith in Jesus, regardless of denomination, are part of His Church. We call this the “invisible Church” (a term coined by Saint Augustine in the 4th Century), because only God knows what’s truly in our hearts and whether or not we truly trust Him. Our hearts are invisible to everybody, except God – that’s why we call it invisible. From our perspective, it is so because we cannot see other people's hearts. The visible Church, on the other hand, are the groups or denominations which profess Faith in Jesus and organize themselves under some sort of government. As such, we don’t know for sure if their members are part of the invisible Church and therefore if they will be saved, but at a minimum they’re considered official Churches.
What is the purpose of the Church? There are many roles for it:
In order to do that, Churches need funding.
In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, I have to say, very many countries fund this denomination via taxation. So in most cases, the funds come from taxpayers who may or may not be Roman Catholics – they might even be atheists. The Vatican itself is funded by tourism and profits from "investments" that often times raise questions.
The idea that the Vatican also takes money from Roman Catholics and use it to fund its own budget is outrageous.
The Wall Street Journal reports the Vatican takes about $55 million in donations every year, but only as little as 10% of those donations by Roman Catholics that are specifically advertised as helping the poor actually go to the poor. About two-thirds is used to fill the Vatican’s administrative budget deficit, through Pope Francis’ annual charitable appeal, also known as Peter’s Pence. The Pope has full authority as to how this money is spent. The WSJ also reports that the assets of Peter’s Pence have dwindled since Francis became pope in 2013 from more than $775 million to $665 million. Where’s the money going?
It’s hard to say where the money is actually going, but this is what the Peter’s Pence website says about the Pope’s promise about how he uses this money: “These collections and donations by the individual faithful or entire local churches raise the awareness that all the baptized are called to materially sustain the work of evangelization and at the same time to help the poor in whatever way is possible”.
In other words, the funds are intended to evangelize and help the poor, but his holy royal highness steals it from the poor because he’s not using it for the advertised purpose. Isn’t this the very definition of fraud? If this was a private organization, i.e. a hedge fund, taking money from investors, with the promise to use those funds in a certain way and then the funds end up paying for, say, the hedge fund managers’ luxurious lifestyles, don’t the fund managers get prosecuted and thrown into jail?
I have a lot of issues with Roman Catholicism – most of which are theological. But fraud is a whole other level of sin – it’s a new low. The Pope is sinning against the poor and against God. Do you think he belongs in the “invisible Church”? What’s really in his heart? He has NO ISSUES stealing from the poor. What do you think about that? Is he hell-bound or heaven-bound?
But most importantly, how does this impact people who are currently not in Church but who could potentially be saved? The hypocrisy in this case is so severe that this is the kind of thing that pushes people OUT of Church. Who in their right mind would a) give money to the Roman Catholic Church now and b) care about whatever the Pope has to say about anything? The man is a thief!
I know what you’re thinking: “how about those wealthy pastors in the Protestant Church”? It’s true that there are many wealthy pastors in the Protestant Church. I only know a few, all of whom have built their wealth by selling books – they’re prolific authors and have made a name for themselves as authors. And while I’m sure there are thieves among the Protestant Church, I think it’s important to note that Rome has a vicious way to use their false theology to guilt people into staying in the Roman Catholic Church such that money keeps pouring in.
What do I mean by this? I mean the following: Rome teaches that in order for you to be saved, you need to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, which they call the “true Church”. So if you leave, they say, you won’t be saved. It’s a scam, because you won’t find anywhere in the Bible that Church membership saves you. In fact, the Roman Church wasn't founded by any of the 12 Apostles and the Apostle Paul himself had to write the entire book of Romans to correct them in their understanding of the Gospel. Yes, my friend, Rome has had theological issues since it was created. The important thing to know is that church membership doesn't save you. What saves you, according to the Bible, is Faith in Jesus Christ.
You see, to the Pope, this false teaching of Church membership is a must to keep his business going. He's not running a Church - he's running a business. Roman Catholics are convinced that they’re saved by belonging to the Roman Catholic denomination – no different from the Pharisees who thought that their ethnicity saved them. But Jesus said in Matthew 3:9 “And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’, for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children from Abraham”. In other words, don’t presume that Church denomination saves. Only Faith in Jesus saves.
Roman Catholicism is not truly Christian, because their salvation is not based on the grounds of Faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, but rather on belonging to the denomination itself. While they agree faith in Jesus is needed, their emphasis on the false premise as being the true church leads its congregation to put their faith in the church itself rather than Jesus. And this is dangerous. Those Roman Catholics who put their trust in their denomination rather than in Jesus will be lost.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’.“
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