This Spanish-language Mexican paper has announced that Vatican City is headed towards bankruptcy, and this piece for The Stream says that a Saudi Prince could end up “owning St. Peter’s Basilica”. It’s not clear how deep in the red it is, but El Progreso says that the Church will likely be completely bankrupt by 2023 and that employees of the Church will lose their pensions by then.
The Church owns over 3 billion dollars worth of properties throughout the world, and it’s possible that a sale of many or most of its idle property would enable the Church to function for a bit longer. But with never-ending legal entanglements due to a culture of sexual abuse, with people in the developed world leaving religion altogether or joining other movements (and the considerable reduction in tithing that has resulted), and other miscellaneous corruption scandals, bankruptcy is likely inevitable.
For generations, the Vatican has been seen as a sovereign country. This legal device has allowed the Church to keep its property, and–most importantly–to evade the law in foreign jurisdictions in sex scandal cases. For instance, former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law escaped to the Vatican after meeting with John Paul II during the scandal involving his covering up the crimes of multiple predator priests, including one who had sexually abused over 200 children. The media–frequently complicit when it comes to the excesses of religious privilege–made it look like JPII had “admonished” him (for obeying his orders? … by moving priests from place to place to avoid scandal and protecting them from legal repercussions?). The cardinal ended up in the Vatican, with his own cathedral and personal assistant. This helped to slowly get him out of the news cycle, and also off the hook. And he helped to elect Pope Benedict …
I, for one, have no sympathy for the crucifixion of their public image. For many years now, we’ve been reading about their corruption and culture of predatory sexual behavior among priests, which begins in the seminary. The documentary The Keepers (which I’ve blogged about before) made a case study of the city of Baltimore, uncovering not just sexual abuse, but also the murder of a nun who was about to speak up, and the cover-up of this crime by the local authorities.
But the most close-to-my-heart reason why I loathe the Catholic Church and its detrimental effects on human society is represented by the picture that went viral in December of 2012 of Pope Benedict giving his blessing to Parliamentary Kadaga of Uganda, who had just promised that she was going to pass the “Kill the Gays” bill as a “Christmas gift” to her voters. In the picture, she is kneeling and kissing his hand. He obviously did not admonish her or try to stop her from committing genocide against LGBT Ugandans, because she went right back to her home country and continued to advance her theocratic agenda.
I will NEVER forget this picture. It says all we need to know about the nature of the Catholic Church, about the true repercussions of its detrimental influence in the Third World (not to mention its fight against safe sex during the AIDS crisis in Africa), about its hypocrisy and daily destruction of lives in spite of labeling itself “pro-life”, and about why this institution does not belong in the 21st Century and we would all be better off if it went bankrupt and we should all root for its downfall.