Catholic Church wealth and other items

Most people believe the real power in Catholicism resides with the hierarchy, and in terms of both theology and church law, that’s basically right. For instance, canon law says the pope wields “supreme, full, immediate and universal” authority, and it’s tough to get more sweeping than that.

One wonders, however, if an accountant would reach the same conclusion.

When it comes to the financial dimension of Catholic life, there are certainly some deep pockets out there. Just to offer a few examples:

  • The University of Notre Dame, America’s flagship Catholic university, has an annual budget of $1.2 billion and an endowment estimated at $7.5 billion.
  • The Archdiocese of Chicago last year reported cash, investments and buildings valued at $2.472 billion.
  • The Knights of Columbus has more than $85 billion of life insurance in force, with $8 billion in annual sales.
  • In Rome, the Institute for the Works of Religion, known popularly (if, some say, inaccurately) as the “Vatican Bank,” administers assets in excess of $6 billion.
  • American Catholics drop more than $8 billion every year into the Sunday collection plate, which works out to more than $150 million a week.
  • In Germany, the Catholic church netted $8.8 billion in 2010 from the national “church tax,” allowing it to remain the country’s largest private employer after Volkswagen.

Simply ticking off those dollar amounts, however, two points are easy to miss. Read more


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