Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, recently interviewed with the BBC to discuss Pope Francis’ views on poverty and economics as the pope enters the second year of his papacy. Enjoy the report via the audio player below.
Back in October, I was a guest on the radio show World Have Your Say on BBC World Service. The occasion was the suspension by the Vatican of the Bishop of Limburg, Germany, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van-Elst, known as the “bishop of bling.” The bishop had reportedly recently spent 31 million euros (roughly $41 million) for the renovation of the historic building that served as his residence, inciting his suspension and a Vatican investigation into these expenditures.
Using this as a springboard, the subject of the BBC discussion was “Should Religious Leaders Live a Modest Life?”
Today, Tim Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter records a similar, but perhaps more ambiguous, case with regards to the Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan:
Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan has purchased a new residence, an historic mansion that once served as the home of the president of Rowan University.
The New Jersey diocese purchased the 7,000 square foot home with eight bedrooms and six bathrooms for $500,000. The residence will provide Sullivan with more room for entertaining dignitaries, hosting donors and for work space, according to Peter Feuerherd, diocesan spokesman.
He said the bishop will live there “with at least two other priests, maybe more.”
The home, built in 1908, has been on the market for about two years. According to a report in the Camden Courier Post newspaper, the home was purchased in 2000 for Dr. Donald Farish, then president of Rowan University. Under the university’s ownership, the house underwent about $700,000 in renovations.
Some of the amenities include an in-ground pool, three fireplaces, a library and a five-car garage. (more…)
I had the opportunity today to take part in a discussion on the BBC program World Have Your Say, discussing the recent suspension by the Vatican of the Bishop of Limbu, Germany, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van-Elst, known in the German press as the “bishop of bling.” He is under investigation regarding expenditures of 31 million euros (roughly $41 million) for the renovation of the historic building that served, in part, as his residence. This story (which can be read here) served as a springboard for the broader question: Should religious leaders live a modest life?
One point I wish had been examined a little more (though it is briefly mentioned at the end) is that of redemption. Much was said of how one needs to handle one’s wealth well, but little was said of what hope there may be for someone who has misused their wealth or even who may simply be overly attached to it. While Christ warned, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” he continues to condition this statement by saying, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:25, 27). As St. Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9) — rich in holiness and virtue, heavenly treasures that do not wear out.
Listen to the interview at BBC World Service here.
ROME — For all the ‘Vaticanisti’ (journalists specializing in the Vatican) sitting around Rome and interviewing one another for the last several weeks, the wholesale consumption of high blood pressure medication took a precipitous drop on the announcement Friday afternoon that the Conclave to elect the new pope would occur on Tuesday, March 12, one day later than I had predicted several weeks ago. Now is the lull before the storm. A Mass praying for the election of the pope will be followed by the first voting session of the Conclave in the early evening.
With many media outlets waiting for that date to be announced, the remaining hotel rooms left in Rome will be gobbled up, and by Monday evening we can expect an influx of the rest of the 5000 journalists accredited to the Holy See to cover the event.
It is difficult not to compare the lead up to this Conclave to the last one I had the opportunity to witness eight years ago. Then, of course, one of the monumental figures of the twentieth century had passed from the scene after a long and highly visible bout with Parkinson’s disease. By the time I had arrived to provide commentary at the BBC location above St. Peter’s Square, the body of John Paul II was being translated (an elegant way of saying the body was ‘moved’) from the Apostolic Palace where the pope lived and died, to beneath the Bernini colonnades in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a slow, mournful and moving sight. By the time the body of the Polish pope was laid in state at the foot of the papal altar lines, long line, began forming down boulevard leading to the basilica. The crowds would grow in the following days to estimates ranging from three to four million pilgrims to pay the last respects the John Paul II. (more…)
In a recent BBC article, Sean Coughlan reports a novel idea from Oxford academic Will Crouch,
He argues that someone becoming an investment banker could create sufficient wealth to make philanthropic donations that could make a bigger difference than someone choosing to work in a “moral” career such as an aid charity.
Indeed, there seems to be an ever increasing suspicion, even among Christians, that certain career paths are per se more moral than others. However, as Fr. Robert Sirico writes in The Entrepreneurial Vocation,
Every person created in the image of God has been given certain natural abilities that God desires to be cultivated and treated as good gifts. If the gift happens to be an inclination for business, stock trading, or investment banking, the religious community should not condemn the person merely on account of his or her profession.
This is unfortunate, to say the least. Crouch argues that if more ethically inclined individuals would pursue careers in banking, for example, they would significantly increase the resources at their disposal to help those in need. According to Crouch,
The direct benefit a single aid worker can produce is limited, whereas the philanthropic banker’s donations might indirectly help 10 times as many people.
Using some basic, ball-park calculations, he estimates that “an ethically inclined banker who donated half their income could save 10,000 lives” throughout their working lifetime. What might be the difference in our neighborhoods, country, and world if more charitably inclined people were open to business related careers? Certainly, it is not everyone’s gift, and there is nothing wrong or deficient about being a social worker, for example, but perhaps there are some who have avoided such a path, such a calling, simply because of an unfair stigma.
Will Crouch offers a different perspective:
We are calling on people to be like Robin Hood, but by earning the money rather than stealing it.
A novel idea, if you ask me.