Friday, March 11, 2016 at 7:57 AM

Cardinals Living Like Princes; the Pope Like a Pauper

Posted by Anthony L. Hall


U.S. bishops living in Italy enjoy luxurious new renovations to their living quarters, despite Pope Francis’s edict that church officials ought to live more humbly.

Upon his election in 2013, Pope Francis said that he wanted a church ‘that is poor and is for the poor.’ He arrived with a plan to reform the priorities of the Catholic Church, left embattled after Benedict XVI’s often luxurious reign.

(Huffington Post, March 4, 2016)

The hope for change that attended the election of Pope Francis rivaled that which attended the election of President Obama. Therefore, it speaks volumes about Vatican politics that the way bishops have obstructed Francis rivals the way Republicans have obstructed Obama.

images4I don’t mind admitting that Francis made a liar out of me when he chose to live in a modest communal apartment instead of the Apostolic Palace. I had declared this prospect impracticable, even absurd. But, in doing so, he clearly hoped cardinals and bishops would follow fashion. They have not.

In fact, it appears the pope is the only church leader living the humble life he decreed. Even worse:

Two controversial new books describe a Vatican awash with cash that is woefully mismanaged, where senior officials pour church funds into their already-lavish apartments, and where even the office that researches candidates for sainthood has had its bank accounts frozen out of concerns about financial impropriety.

(London Guardian, November 3, 2015)

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.06.57 PMAlas, leaders of the Catholic Church have no greater regard for the Code of Canon Law pertaining to poverty than they have for the one pertaining to celibacy. I commented on the pope himself lamenting the former in “Pope Francis Condemns the ‘Cult and Idolatry of Money,’” November 27, 2013, and the latter in “Pope Confesses: There’s a Gay Cabal in the Vatican,” July 13, 2013.

But don’t get me started on the indulgences church leaders grant priests who sexually abuse children. I commented on this betrayal of faith and trust in “Pope Accused of Harboring Pedophile Priests,” March 16, 2010. But I digress …

It would be one thing if Francis were rebuking a bishop here and there for failing to follow his lead. In that case, he would just be living the parable of the good shepherd and one lost sheep. But he is having to rebuke so many bishops (and cardinals) for maintaining their princely lifestyles, the parable of the good shepherd and a lost flock seems more apropos.

I am not a prophet. And don’t play one on this weblog. Yet, in “Habemus Papam: Hail, Francis,” March 13, 2013, I warned it would be thus.



The prevailing wisdom is that Bergoglio intends to return the Church to its basic mission of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Arguably, he telegraphed his intent by choosing Francis as his papal name, paying homage to St. Francis of Assisi — who was a bone fide champion of the poor…

Think about this folks: Is Pope Francis going to instruct the Curia to redistribute what remains of the Church’s ostentatious wealth, after settling child-sex abuse cases, to caring for the poor? I don’t think so. In fact, the Church is already closing schools for the poor instead of selling valuable artworks and other material possessions to settle these cases.

On the other hand, he might instruct the cardinals (aka the “princes” of the Church for Christ’s sake) to follow his example by giving up their fancy apartments, cooks, and chauffeured limousines.  But I suspect cardinals will be even less willing to follow the pope’s instruction in this respect than lay Catholics have been to follow the cardinals’ instruction with respect to contraception.

Of course, that the pope is only doing what Jesus would do indicates how much leaders of the Catholic Church have perverted and corrupted their holy mission. Indeed, that Bergoglio is the first pope to honor St. Francis is testament to how little interest even his predecessors have had throughout the ages in living lives of humility, simplicity, and poverty … as Jesus did.


And so the rich get richer and the poor get poorer … even in the Catholic Church.

Related commentaries:
Habemus Papam
Cult of money
Gay cabal
Pedophile priest

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