The Vatican’s Hypocrisy: A Personal Story

I am sure that those of you who frequent FtB will be fully aware of the Catholic Church’s abysmal record throughout history, from raping and castrating and stealing children from their parents to sell them for profit, to condemning millions of sick people to suffering in their dying days, to contributing to the mass spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and the list goes on and on.

You might also have heard from the people who defend the Catholic Church’s crumbling pedestal. Sure, there were priests who raped children, but there have also been teachers, coaches, and family members who raped children, these things happen, there are predators amongst us and they are attracted to positions which give them power over kids. We need to weed them out, not shut down the entire institution over a few bad apples, anymore than we should get rid of schools or sports programs.

And sure, the Catholic Church preached against the use of condoms, and still preaches against giving pain killers to terminally ill patients. But abstinence, and the idea of physical suffering in order to get closer to God, these are core tenets of the Catholic Church! You might disagree, or consider them old-fashioned, or unrealistic, or even harmful, but they believe them! They’re still trying to do good, however misguided you may think they are being.

And the crusades happened forever ago, you’re going to have to stop bringing that one up. People did some nasty shit in those days.

To those who defend the Catholic Church in this way, I have a story to tell from my own family. It is not a horrific story of rape or mutilation, in fact, in the grand scheme of things it will seem rather mild. However, I tell this story because, even if you grant all of the defenses of the Catholic Church that I have given, it still demonstrates that the Vatican as an organization doesn’t give a damn about the people. They hide behind their tenets when it suits them, and discards them mercilessly when it does not.

Something that you may not know, is that the Vatican’s property in Italy goes far beyond the basilicas and churches that pepper the country. The Vatican does not pay property taxes on these buildings, and I’m sure you can understand why. What price do you put on the Sistine Chapel, or the Pantheon? However, what is not as widely known is that the Vatican actually owns an estimated 20% of the real estate in Italy, including apartments, shops, hospitals and hotels. These are not just the shops that sell Catholic trinkets and the apartments that the cardinals live in, but many are ordinary apartments rented out to ordinary people, bakeries and restaurants and bars, who all pay rent to the Vatican as though they were any other landlord. Except, of course, for the fact that no other landlord is exempt from paying taxes on such properties.

My Grandmother lives in one such apartment, and has been paying rent to her Holy Landlord for over 40 years now. Every month, and on time, although she is lucky that her apartment is rent-controlled.

10 years ago, when she was 83, the Vatican decided that enough was enough with this old lady. They couldn’t raise her rent by much, so it was time for her to clear out. They started calling her incessantly, and told her they would not renew her contract. Suddenly, her TV stopped working properly. The badgering phone calls continued, telling her she had to move, until finally she called a lawyer who told them that if they kept it up they would be both sued and face a media shitstorm, and they let it go, for a while.

Now, 10 years later, my Grandmother is 93 and still kicking. She is an elderly woman, precisely the kind of person that the Catholic Church mandates we all respect and help, right? Not when money is concerned. The calls and threats have started again, and my Grandmother has taken to selling and donating as many of her possessions as she can find people to come and take them away, in the fear that she will have to move out of her home at her age, and begging them to just wait for her to die, surely they can have the apartment back then. A cardinal came to visit her, trying to explain it all from the Vatican’s perspective. “Ma Signora”, he told her “Please try to see it from our point of view. You are getting on in years, and if something happened to you, then what will we do?”

My Grandmother was confused at that. It’s not like the Vatican had ever paid for any medical expenses of hers, or gave her any kind of support in any way. Or are they perhaps afraid that the property value would decrease if she died there?

Well her husband already died in that apartment 15 years ago, and she sure as shit is planning on following in his footsteps, one day.

And it’s not like they have people lined up around the block who want to rent her apartment for the prices they want to ask, seeing as the apartment underneath hers has been empty for over a year.

And it’s not like they’re not trying to pull the same shit on the neighbors above her, who had the audacity, since they began renting, to have three kids and hire a nanny. “We rented you that apartment for two people, not six!” The Vatican told them.

Core tenets of the Catholic Church, you say? I forgot the part about kicking old women and married couples for daring to have kids, out of their homes.

Let that one sink in for a second. The irony would be delicious, if it wasn’t for the cost.

The core tenet of the Catholic Church is the same of any multinational corporation: anything for an extra buck. Remember that.


  1. lorn says

    The church is just another business. The business of business is profit, and if at all possible, increasing profits. Churches, services, vestments, the Vatican itself are all just a complex of props, word of mouth advertising, positioning, and presentation to bring in customers and guarantee loyalty.

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