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The Wholly Rotten Criminal Church - 02

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

The shameless wealth of a church for the poor



"I will fear no people, for you are with me; your board, your staff and their wealth, they comfort me and provide me with comfort.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my slaves. You anoint my head with crowns of gold; my golden cup overflows with money and power" - Psalm 23Pf












In the introduction, Mr. Boyd told us that when it comes to wealth, the Catholic Church cannot compete with governments, corporations or present day billionaires. Mr. Bezos or Mr. Musk may very well be the richest individuals on the planet, but are they richer than the R.C.C? Do the largest companies in the world dwarf the wealth of the Vatican crime syndicate? Let’s find out.


1. People and companies that actually do or produce something:





2. The HRCC, which basically just talks and promises stuff:


The total land holdings of the HRCC, 71.6 million hectares, are twice the size of Germany or the land area of the Republic of the Philippines. If the HRCC were to consolidate its lands in one contiguous territory, it would form the 39th largest country in the world and be bigger than 80 % of all countries. If we were to use Germany as a benchmark for the land value, then the asset value of the Catholic Church in land alone would be: 163.86 trillion USD.


Reference 26 gives a construction cost estimate of a 17,000 square feet parish church (approx. 1,580 square meters). Many churches are a lot larger than that, i.e. the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, Maryland is three times that surface area. Again according to Mr. Boyd, there are 223,129 Catholic parishes in the world, with each having one or more churches. Let’s assume that the total number of Catholic churches is 446,258. If we apply the above reference for a modest church, not including basements or foundation structures, furniture, utensils or decorations, then the total asset value of Catholic Churches at construction cost is more than 1.22 trillion USD.


As pointed out by Mr. Boyd, the HRCC also owns

  • 94,600 elementary schools

  • 47,500 secondary schools

  • 9,900 orphanages

  • 5,400 hospitals

  • 1,400 universities / seminaries

Universities and hospitals generally occupy more than 17,000 square feet of land. To name but two:

  • The Catholic University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium, is spread over 5 campuses. One campus alone, "Gasthuisberg", sits on a little over 20 hectares ( 2.15 million square feet).

  • The main campus of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila sits on a land area of 21.50 hectares or 2.31 million square feet.

So even if we would only triple the above reference construction cost (instead of multiplying it by 135 as we could for the fore mentioned), the fixed constructed assets listed by Mr. Boyd would easily add another 1.30 trillion USD to the total asset value of the HRCC. That still is a serious understatement.


Whether intentionally or not, Mr. Boyd does not mention any residential or commercial properties held by the Catholic Church. But they definitely make up for a very large part of the total patrimony of the Catholic all-but-in-name Corporation.


In the very heart of Paris, the Church owns 737 properties in and around the Champs-Elysees and boulevards Saint-Michel and Odeon, valued at 685 million USD. It owns prime real estate in London, Geneva and Lausanne with a combined estimated market value over 250 million USD. Properties under direct management of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See in Rome include 2,400 rental apartments and 600 offices and commercial spaces. Their market value: 6.40 billion USD. Keep in mind that this says nothing about the properties held by the Italian dioceses.


There are about 3,600 abbeys and monasteries belonging to the Catholic Church. Calculating the asset value of those constructed fixed assets would be a nice thesis subject for interdisciplinary students. Many of those abbeys own breweries, vineyards, distilleries, milling companies or other related industrial facilities. In spite of hundreds of hours of research, I have yet to find a single one of them publishing their financial statements. So what would the fixed asset value of these entities be? A few billion? Another trillion?


The church owns literally millions of pieces of art in all possible forms: statues, paintings, relic shrines, jewelry. The Pinakoteca Vaticana, Stanze di Rafaello and Sistine Chapel alone house more than 70,000 artistic works. The Shrine of the Three Kings in the cathedral of Cologne, Germany was already valued at 1 million pounds sterling in 1860 (approximately 151 million USD today). This estimate may seem high until you take into account that the large gold- and silver-plated box also contains more than thousand precious stones.

A worthless little trinket of the HRCC... or a 150 million dollar liability?


Most bishops do not carry large shrines on their backs but revert to more practical portable wealth, golden rings or cruciform necklaces. Admittedly, they cannot save souls without them and in some cases, like the pope's, they need to be custom made. But what's a few hundreds of thousand dollars in light of all the above?


Summing up, in fixed tangible assets alone, the HRCC's asset value already surpasses 165 trillion USD. No wonder Mr. Boyd does not want us to compare the HRCC with poor people like Mr. Bezos or small enterprises like AT&T: the latter's total assets do not even represent half a percent of the fixed tangible assets of the HRCC. The Catholic Church is the richest organization in the world but that doesn't mean it is rich enough. As the late George Carlin already pointed out: god always needs more money. He may be omniscient and omnipotent, but he can't handle money. That explains the insatiable greed of religious organizations like the HRCC. We should all help fill that bottomless pit. Mr. Boyd told us that Mr. Bezos could build a dozen St. Peter's Basilicas and still be a multi-billionaire. We can now retort without any exaggeration that the Holy Roman Catholic Church could pay off the national debt of the Republic of the Philippines 40 times over and still be a multi-trillionaire! We can also present an improved top-5, even with omission of the financial assets of the HRCC:



 

Examples of fixed tangible assets of the Wholly Rotten Criminal Conglomerate


01. Land holdings of the Catholic Church, worldwide: 716 billion square meters.

Low end estimated value: 5,156,990,000,000 USD (5.16 trillion USD)

Medium estimated value: 163,856,600,000,000 USD (163.86 trillion USD)

Higher end estimated value: 394,408,600,000,000 USD (394.41 trillion USD)

For a justification of the estimates, see the notes below.


02. Saint-Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City As estimated by Mr. Boyd, based on various historical records of construction costs and donations thereto: 7,000,000,000 USD (7.00 billion USD)


03. Saint-Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy Again based on estimated construction costs over the centuries and recent renovations in the 20th century: 5,500,000,000 USD (5.50 billion USD)


04. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C, USA, at construction cost: 220,470,000 USD


05. Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. A gift to the Catholic Church At construction cost: 190,750,000 USD.


06. Saint-Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, New York City, NY, USA, at approximate construction cost and both 1973 and 2015 renovations: 387,674,000 USD.


07. Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, California, USA at construction cost: 229,310,000 USD.


08. Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast. Gifted to the Catholic Church and accepted by John Paul II in 1990. Low end estimate construction cost: 175,000,000 USD Medium estimated construction cost: 300,000,000 USD High end estimated construction cost: 600,000,000 USD


09. The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain estimated construction cost at completion 2026: 458,850,000 USD.


10. Basilica of the National Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida, Aparecida, Brazil at construction cost: 65,810,000 USD.


11. Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Connecticut, USA at construction cost: 92,200,000 USD.


12. Christ Cathedral, Garden Grove, California, USA at construction cost: 56,537,157 USD.


13. Jubilee Church, Tor Tres Teste, Rome, Italy, (part of the Millennium Project to construct 50 new churches annex community centers in Rome): estimated construction cost at ground breaking: 10,550,000 USD.


14. Cathedral of Saint-Jude the Apostle, St. – Petersburg, Florida, USA Renovation costs 2012-2013: 10,040,000 USD.


15. Saint-Joseph Parish Church, Holzkirchen, Bavaria, Germany Building cost 2018: 12,510,000 USD.


Subtotal: These 15 churches approximate about 14.50 billion USD. Though some of them may stand out from the average parish church, they do not even represent 0.003 % of the total number of Catholic churches.


16. Diocesan center of Saint-Nicholas, Limburg, Germany Refurbishment and renovation costs, which included the extravagance displayed by the Bishop of Bling for the expenditures on his private parts: Price tag at completion: 35,650,000 USD.


17. Residence of the Archbishop of New York, Madison Avenue, New York City, NY, USA Market value: 30,000,000 USD.


18. Residence of the Archbishop of Chicago, Gold Coast quarter, Chicago, Illinois, USA Market value: 14,300,000 USD.


19. Residence of the Archbishop of Seattle, King County, Washington, USA Market value: 3,840,000 USD.


20. Residence of the Archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut, USA Market value: 1,850,000 USD.


21. Residence of the Archbishop of Miami, Dade County, Florida, USA Market value: 1,380,000 USD


22. a. Palace of the Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, USA (Mr. Carlson); including the separate servants house Market value: 1,400,000 USD; b. Mr. Carlson’s summer house in Estero, Florida: 327,500 USD


23. Residence of the Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, USA Market value: 1,240,000 USD.


24. The Archbishop of San Antonio had to fire 11 full time employees in 2009 because of budget short fallings, but was still able to build himself a 5,000 square foot residence worth 1,100,000 USD.


25. In 2002 the Archdiocese of Los Angeles built a new 26,000 square foot rectory for its former archbishop, at a total budget of 7,000,000 USD.


Subtotal: Just shy of 100 million USD to house 10 bishops. How much would it add up to if we traced the residences of the other 5,354 bishops, the 414,326 priests, 50,295 monks and 630,099 nuns in service of the pontifex maximus?


The 30 million dollar home of a poor fisherman


26. Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Construction cost: 4,370,322 USD.


27. Christ the King statue, Swiebodzin, Poland Construction cost: 1,674,000 USD.


28. Jesus Buntu Barake statue, Makale, South Sulawesi, Indonesia Construction cost: 1,930,000 USD.


29. Glorioso Christo de Chiapas cross and chapel, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico Construction cost: 9,050,825 USD.


30. Christ the King statue, Los Andes, Cauca Valley, Colombia Construction cost: 22,650,000 USD.


Subtotal: Five vanities at a construction cost of 39.68 million US. There are still dozens of these literal 'monumental' trespasses against god's second commandment. But hey, the Catholic church does not conform to god... it is god who has to conform to the church.




David, aPHD, 15 December 2021



 

Notes, sources and references:


Notes: For the global averages of land prices per square meter, we looked specifically at the countries that are top priority of the HRCC, being Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines and the USA. These four are the countries with the largest Catholic population, hence of special financial significance:

Brazil: 4.833 USD

Mexico: 2.834 USD

Philippines: 3.952 USD

USA: 17.191 USD


If each of those countries hypothetically represented 25 % of their combined total, the average land price would be 7.2052 USD per square meter. Though this is the average we apply to the low end estimate of land value, it needs to be pointed out that most churches in the past 250 years have been built in residential areas where land prices are usually valued higher. If we would apply the German national average of building land, which stands at 199.00 EUR per square meter as of August 2021, then the total asset value of the HRCC in land alone would already be 142.48 trillion euros; at an exchange rate of 1.15 USD to the euro this is approximately 163.86 trillion USD. In the city of Antwerp, the price per square meter for building land is 550.85 USD. Then again, Antwerp certainly isn’t the most expensive city in Europe to build something. In the city of Amsterdam for instance, a square meter of building land would go for 1,886 USD in 2016. Though still not the most expensive, Amsterdam is the example we used to arrive at the higher end estimate.


In this article, we have briefly discussed some of the real estate assets of the Roman Catholic Church. Compiling an extensive overview thereof is already impossible enough a task, but that pales in comparison with tracking down some of its financial assets. In the course of the following articles we will however give some examples. Those examples, as limited as they may be, will show that in spite of all the whining and complaining, the Catholic Church doesn’t need to worry about money…ever.


Construction costs aren’t of course the sole determinant of an asset’s value. Especially since many of the Catholic Church’s buildings were constructed using unpaid slaves. Neither do any of the above listed examples take any of the artistic paintings, fresco’s, church furniture or church treasures like golden chalices, tabernacle carpentry, pews, iconographic panels etc. into account. For many of the churches, especially the older ones, a fair value is impossible to calculate. Financial statements that refer to this problem are those of the diocese of Dublin, Ireland. In its notes, the auditors explain how they arrive at their estimation of the real estate held by the diocese but admit they can only go as far back as the historical data allows them.


Conversion rates (used for this article and the following) For exchange rates between USD and EUR we used the ratio of 1.15 USD to the EUR. For exchange rates between USD and AUD we used the ratio of 0.72 AUD to the USD. For the exchange rate and inflation rate of the pound sterling quoted from 1860, we used the Historical Currency Converter (test version 1) developed by prof. Rodney Edvinsson, University of Stockholm, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study https://www.historicalstatistics.org/Currencyconverter.html in combination with the US inflation calculator for the years 2000-2021 https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/


Main sources:


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  6. “Church properties represent substantial assets”, Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate’s Church Properties Initiative (CPI), Notre Dame University, https://realestate.nd.edu/research/church-properties/

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  9. “Wat kost een kavel?”, Average prices 2016, 2019, iTX Bouwconsult, https://www.itx-bouwconsult.nl/informatie/kavelprijzen

  10. Median residential land price Antwerp: 479.00 EUR/sq.m. Laurenz Verledens, “Dit zijn de duurste en goedkoopste gemeenten voor bouwgrond”, 28 april 2020, Trends/Knack Magazine, Analysis, https://trends.knack.be/economie/immo/dit-zijn-de-duurste-en-goedkoopste-gemeenten-voor-bouwgrond/article-analyse-1593473.html?cookie_check=1637846773

  11. “Square Metre Prices in Africa”, https://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Africa

  12. “Square Metre Prices in Philippines compared to Asia”, https://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Asia/Philippines/square-meter-prices

  13. “Square Metre Prices in Caribbean”, https://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Caribbean

  14. “Square metre prices in Latin America” https://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Latin-America/square-meter-prices

  15. Abi Carter, “Cost of building land reaches a record high in Germany”, 27 August 2021, I am Expat Germany, (199.00 EUR per sq.m.) https://www.iamexpat.de/housing/real-estate-news/cost-building-land-reaches-record-high-germany

  16. Health Sciences campus Gasthuisberg, UZ Leuven, https://www.uzleuven.be/nl/ruimteplanning/health-sciences-campus-gasthuisberg

  17. Wikipedia, "University of Santo Tomas", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Santo_Tomas

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  19. Value of the Shrine of the Three Kings: citation from the online preview of: Joseph Cross (D.D.), "The American pastor in Europe", edited by J. Cumming, Oxford University, 1860. page 33. Digitized 23 June 2006 https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=tFgBAAAAQAAJ&dq=Estimated+value+of+the+Shrine+of+the+Three+Kings+in+Cologne&source=gbs_navlinks_s

  20. Wikipedia, “Basilica of Our Lady of Peace”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Our_Lady_of_Peace

  21. Wikipedia, “Christ Cathedral (Garden Grove, California)”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Cathedral_(Garden_Grove,_California)

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  23. “Cathedral of Mary Our Queen”, Archdiocese of Baltimore > the Archdiocese, https://www.archbalt.org/the-archdiocese/cathedral-of-mary-our-queen/

  24. Sharon Wu, “St. Patrick’s Cathedral To Undergo $175 Million Restoration”, NYU Local, March 22, 2012, https://nyulocal.com/st-patricks-cathedral-to-undergo-175-million-restoration-85ca21d0407c

  25. Wikipedia, “St. Patrick's Cathedral (Midtown Manhattan)”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick%27s_Cathedral_(Midtown_Manhattan)#1950s_to_1990s

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  27. “How many pieces of art are in the Vatican Museum? The Vatican Museums house one of the most expansive and a spectacular collection in art history, with a whopping 70,000 works lining the walls of the Sistine Chapel, the Stanze di Raffaello and the Pinacoteca Vaticana (among others!).” Vatican City, Vatican City Tours, https://www.vaticancitytours.it/blog/how-many-pieces-of-art-are-in-the-vatican-museum/

  28. David S. Levine, “Napoleon, Hitler, Vatican: All collectors – opinion”, September 18, 2021, The Jerusalem Post, https://www.jpost.com/opinion/napoleon-hitler-vatican-all-collectors-opinion-679730

  29. Richcity.com (self media writer), “Check Out How Much The Pope Francis's Ring Is Worth”, April 2021, Opera News > Religion belief > Catholics, https://ng.opera.news/ng/en/religion/88fb3335597b8377664db3f017ac8ae3

  30. “From Rome to London, details of the Vatican’s property empire revealed”, The local It, Italy’s news in English, 21 February 2021, https://www.thelocal.it/20210221/property-a-blessing-and-a-burden-for-the-vatican/

  31. “Amsterdamse bouwgrond voor 1.640 euro per m₂ “, Vastgoedmarkt Nederland, Nieuws, 14 november 2016, https://www.vastgoedmarkt.nl/geen-categorie/nieuws/2016/11/amsterdamse-bouwgrond-voor-1-640-euro-per-m2-101101494

  32. National debt of the Philippines 2020: 177.21 billion USD; Aaron O’Neill, “Philippines: National debt from 2016 to 2026”, June 8, 2021 Statista > Economy and Politics > International, https://www.statista.com/statistics/531873/national-debt-of-philippines/

  33. Daniel Burke, CNN Belief blog editor, “The lavish homes of American archbishops”, August 2014, https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2014/08/us/american-archbishops-lavish-homes/index.html

  34. "Bishop of bling", Wikipedia, “Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz-Peter_Tebartz-van_Elst

  35. David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou, “How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini's millions”, 21 January 2013, the Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/21/vatican-secret-property-empire-mussolini

  36. Karen Simao, “10 most expensive religious buildings ever built”, 28 August, 2019, the Richest, https://www.therichest.com/luxury-architecture/most-expensive-religious-buildings/

  37. “La Chiesa del Dio Padre Misericordioso”, Design Build Network, Projects, https://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/jubilee-church-rome/

  38. ACN, Barcelona “Sagrada Família finally gets building permit 134 years since applying”, 07 June 2019, Catalan News – Life and Style, https://www.catalannews.com/life-style/item/sagrada-familia-finally-gets-building-permit-134-years-since-applying

  39. Wikipedia, “Priest shortage in the Catholic Church”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest_shortage_in_the_Catholic_Church

  40. Carol Glatz, “Vatican statistics show continued growth in number of Catholics worldwide”, 26 March 2021, Catholic News Service, Vatican, National Catholic Reporter, https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/vatican-statistics-show-continued-growth-number-catholics-worldwide

  41. Gareth Rubin, “Monasteries in drive to recruit more novices”, 11 January 2009, The Observer – Religion, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/11/religion-monks-nuns

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  43. Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil https://www.thebalancesmb.com/christ-the-redeemer-construction-facts-844362

  44. Wikipedia, “Christ the King statue, Swiebodzin”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_the_King_Statue,_%C5%9Awiebodzin

  45. “The world’s tallest Jeus statue in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi”, Easytraveler, Chronicles of a Filipino travel journalist https://eazytraveler.net/2017/07/toraja-jesus-statue-buntu-burake-makale/

  46. Piotr Woijciak, “Colombia builds ‘tallest Jesus statue’ in Americas”, 29 January 2015, Colombia Reports – Central Colombia https://colombiareports.com/amp/colombia-builds-tallest-jesus-statue-americas/

Images:

  1. Solid silver, gold plated cup from 1620, patrimony of the Holy-Blood Basilica in Brugge, Flanders, photo by author, June 2018

  2. Arminia, "Dreikönigsschrein in Kölner Dom1", 17 oktober 2004, WikiCommons

  3. 15,000 square foot mansion of the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 218 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, NY: valued at 30 million USD. Farragutful, "New York Archbishops Residence - Manhattan.JPG", 14 May 2016, WikiCommons





















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