Target: Pope Francis
Goal: Urge Pope Francis to use more of the Vatican’s vast wealth for philanthropy
The recent elevation of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the position of Pope has left many wondering what will define his time in papal office. He gave hints from the beginning of a commitment to the poor by choosing the name Francis, which references a philanthropic and humble saint.
The Vatican is an immensely wealthy institution. This is obvious not only by looking around at the ornate golden decorations in Vatican City, but also by considering that the Catholic Church counts more than a billion members. If so much as half of these give even a little of their income, that would be a significant revenue stream, not to mention the numerous properties the Church has accumulated over the centuries.
In the last few decades, activists and reformers have begun to question the Church’s vast holdings and the opacity of its banking and finances. The Church, since part of its central mission is to uplift the poor and downtrodden, has a responsibility to use its wealth for philanthropy, not trifles like golden ornamentation.
Pope Francis seems to agree with this sentiment, preferring to travel in a simple car rather than the Vatican limousine, and wearing a simple crucifix around his neck rather than an ornate golden one. This is an encouraging sign, but he must do more than make gestures.
As the head of the one of the largest organizations by membership in the world, and sovereign of the state of Vatican City, Pope Francis has immense power to use the wealth of the Church to help the poor more. He seems disposed to the idea, but there would doubtless be conservative elements at high levels that prefer to preserve tradition rather than transfer resources to the needy.
Pope Francis, as Pope, is one of the most prominent followers of Jesus in the world today—Jesus, who said: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Sign the petition below to ask Pope Francis to hold to Jesus’ teachings about helping the poor and use more of the Vatican’s wealth for philanthropy.
Your Holiness Pope Francis,
I would like to congratulate you on your elevation to the office of the papacy. Your choice of a name and professed goals for your papacy are noble ones. To remember the poor is to follow the teachings of Jesus.
I am writing to ask you to live up to those goals in substantive ways by using much more of the Vatican’s wealth for philanthropy. The Church has a large income, and huge amounts of property, whether they are assets in the Vatican Bank or gold ornaments in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Much of this wealth, I believe, would be better used comforting the billions of needy people in the world. Doing such a thing would send a very strong positive message to the rest of the world that you, as Pope, and by extension the whole Catholic Church, take Jesus’ teachings on philanthropy seriously.
Please remember the poor not just in your prayers but also in your pocketbook.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dick Schmitt via Dick and Jane’s Travels