A friend just shared an objection his atheist friend had to the Catholic Church. It went like this: “My atheist friend told me one of the things she disliked about the church was that they had all these great big fancy churches in poor countries but still asked for money from the poor and why they didn’t sell all the fancy stuff and help the needy.”

Here was my answer, maybe a bit more animated than necessary, but . . .

“Your friend has it back-asswards. I have been to the poorest areas of the Philippines and India and visited their beautiful churches. Who owns those churches? The Vatican? No! They are owned by the poor people who scratched every dime together to build a house for God worthy of him.

The Church, funded by these poor and wealthier donors, has also built the hospitals, schools, clinics and it feeds the poor. One quarter of the world’s population has no health care but that provided by the Church.

Why does your friend have a better house and nicer car than she probably needs? It is certainly much more opulence and expensive that people who live in poor countries. Why not quit being a hypocrite and sell her possession and distribute them to the poor? Let her put her money where her mouth is? Let her learn the real truth before she criticizes and condemns?

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In the Philippines on the island of Cebu (as everywhere else) they have Mass every hour on the hour 12-14 hours a day in churches that are only separated by a few miles. The Masses are every hour on the hour starting at 5 AM and there is standing room only at every Mass. I’ve seen the same in India, and many other countries.

Who would DARE to take confiscate those churches and sell them? These churches are the center of the community, educators of the people give me five minutes and where they are always baptized at first I’m buried at that. The poor people would rally around their churches and kill anyone who would dare touch them.

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One day while praying in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome I thought, “What does God think about all this magnificence, beauty and expense? Is He shaking his head in disapproval?”Then an example came to me.

Imagine my son Dominic works hard all summer to earn money and spends his summer building something magnificent to give to me—his grandfather whom he loves. Now imagine the day arrives and he presents me with an extravagant gift that represents his heart and soul and labor.

What would happen if I responded by saying, “Dominic, this is a big waste of your time and money! You should sell it and give it to the poor.”

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God’s heart is moved by the generosity of these faithful disciples, building such an edifice out of their adoration for Him. He too is a Father and we are his sons and daughters. He appreciates our appreciation and gratitude but those who know God and do “not honor Him as God or give thanks” (Romans 1:21) are displeasing to Him.

Your atheist friend is foolish, or at least misguided and parroting all the tired old lies of her age. I love Chesterton who said, “The Catholic Church is the only thing that can protect you from becoming a slave of your age.”

I get a bit animated because I get sick of the hypocrisy, stupidity, and the same old, same old…

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Barbara

    Good job, Steve!

    I also read that even if the Vatican could sell all it’s land and posessions, and distribute the money evenly, everyone in the world would get exactly $2. So another question to ask, ‘if you want the church to give away money to the poor, what are you doing with your 2 dollars?’ It starts with us. We are responsible for taking care of the poor. Not somebody else. (including the government)

    God isn’t going to ask us if the Church took care of His poor. He’s going to ask us what we did for the poor. That’s how Jesus described the separation of the goats and the sheep. Did we feed the hungry? Did we give drink to the thirsty?

  2. Tim


    We usually get this old canard about the vatican and its treasures.

    If the vatican sold everything, it would amount to what the department of defense spends in a weekend.

  3. Jae

    Good job, Steve! I have the same reaction too with these old lies and stupidity. The other side though it is hilarious.

    Just watch your blood pressure, my friend.

    God bless.

  4. Patty Bonds

    LOLOL! Steve, I think we really are family from waaaaaaay back. We both have that shoot from the hip, tell it like it is gene. 🙂

  5. HG

    Funny, Judas had the same line of thinking — sell the expensive oil and give the money to the poor, he thought of the woman who poured oil on Jesus head. And the Lord didn’t agree with him.

  6. Dan

    But how do you really feel, Steve? : )

    HG, your line of thinking is spot-on!

    God bless,

  7. Janet M Prouty

    Amen to all the points. We give our best, most beautiful to God because we love Him. And it is open to all
    including the poor to come and pray to God in beautiful places. Even those with little want to dress in ‘Sunday best’ to worship. Selling all the churches, the art work, the Mass vessels would leave the poor with nothing to feed their spirits.

  8. Jovan Weismiller

    Some of the most beautiful Churches I've ever seen were built by new immigrants to the States whilst they were living in shacks, log cabins and dugouts. Once they had given God a fittinh house, they worried about building their own.

    STEVE RAY HERE: Jovan, nicely said and very correct. And the proper order of things!

  9. Vincenzo

    Steve as always we pray God continue to Bless you and Families.

    Thank you for a True Answer to this “same old same old” Question of ignorance.

    Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11)
    …….sometimes this verse is interpreted as if to say, “You can’t overcome poverty. It’s a useless cause. Don’t waste your money on it.

    Thank you Jesus for revealing the Truth on this Question.


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