The Judas Argument
When I thought of Catholicism even up to just 5 years ago, my first thoughts went to images of the pompous looking tiaras and hats the popes and cardinals wore. The paradox of "Vatican riches" despite the example of poor fishermen who followed Christ was ingrained in me from the tracts and propaganda I read as a young Bible Christian. Yeah, I believed this stuff:
"The Vatican's treasure of solid gold has been estimated by the United Nations World Magazine to amount to several billion dollars. A large bulk of this is stored in gold ingots with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, while banks in England and Switzerland hold the rest. But this is just a small portion of the wealth of the Vatican, which in the U.S. alone, is greater than that of the five wealthiest giant corporations of the country. When to that is added all the real estate, property, stocks and shares abroad, then the staggering accumulation of the wealth of the Catholic church becomes so formidable as to defy any rational assessment."(From Jack Chick's Website)
"Why doesn't the Church sell all the riches and treasures it owns in the museums and repositories and give it to the poor" was the argument often heard. Remember when the women broke the alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus and Judas complained that the money should be given to the poor? He was missing the point! Dwight Longenecker, former Anglican priest and Bob Jones University graduate, now a Catholic priest gives a nice summary of this issue on his blog Standing On My Head.