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US catholics outsource prayers to India

Joe King
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:


Absolutely not! As I said, you are not required to donate anything in order to have the mass said. Plus, having a mass said for you will not give you salvation.


Why organise it then? What is the benefit of having a group of people saying mass for a particular person? Not trying to mock the process, just trying to figure it out.

Also, if there were no donations, would the mass really be said? How long would the arrangement last without any money being involved?
Helen Thomas
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Churches receive requests for prayers as a matter of course, and the Priests include them by mentioning the individual cases but mass is said en-bloc.
Money won't be mentioned but the prayers said will bring in donations as long as people keep sending prayer requests.

Paul may send in a prayer request and Peter,Mary make a donation at the same time.
So it kind of balances out. Hopefully Paul will make a donation at a later date, even if it's far into the future.

I think that's how the process will work. It has for the last 2000 years. That's a long time to be in business.
[ June 17, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]

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Joe King
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Originally posted by Helen Thomas:

I think that's how the process will work. IT has for the last 2000 years. That's a long time to be in business.
[ June 17, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]


Well the key word there is business. The sad thing is that many organised churches do closely resemble businesses - they have a corporate structure of management, the head of the organisation is quite well off etc etc. I personally find it slightly odd that the Catholic church preaches charity while maintaining its leaders in a rather sumptuous palace in Rome. I wonder what percentage of the donations received by the church go towards paying for this palace?

Anyway, back to the topic in discussion, what about the cases where requests for mass are sent abroad? What does people who send these requests gain from doing so? Is the purpose to help the people mentioned in the mass, or to try and encourage the saying of mass in other countries, or some other reason?
[ June 17, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Thomas Paul
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I personally find it slightly odd that the Catholic church preaches charity while maintaining its leaders in a rather sumptuous palace in Rome. I wonder what percentage of the donations received by the church go towards paying for this palace?

Let's not get carried away by the way the Pope lives. He actually lives a very simple life. Many of the donations to the Church were in the form of art and much of the Church's wealth is in that form as well. Should the Church sell the Sistine Chapel?

Yearly revenue to the Vatican is about $200 million. About 25% of that is in the form of donations. That money is used to maintain the Vatican and its many treasures and pay the salaries of the 4,000 people that work in Vatican City. The Pope does travel a lot and the cost of that comes out of that as well. And there are many organizations that the Chruch runs through the Vatican to support charitable ventures.

Anyway, back to the topic in discussion, what about the cases where requests for mass are sent abroad? What does people who send these requests gain from doing so? Is the purpose to help the people mentioned in the mass, or to try and encourage the saying of mass in other countries, or some other reason?

My understanding is that the masses are being said overseas because of the shortage of priests in the US. For example, in my parish there is about a year wait if you want a mass said. If you want something sooner then you may look at having a mass said overseas. When I get a mass card I get it from Our Lady of Victory which is a hospital/home run by the Catholic Church in upstate NY for severely disabled children. They don't do individual masses but pray for the souls of all who have had intentions sent to them.

Why have a mass said, is the other question that was asked. Catholics believe that those who die in a state of sin, but not a serious mortal sin, go to a place called purgatory. Purgatory is a place of cleansing where our sins are removed from us. One person described it as a place where all the suffering that your sins introduced into the world is laid out to you. Purgatory does involve some suffering (not neccessarily physical suffering)although it is suffering tempered by the knowledge that you will go to heaven. The Church teaches that all souls in purgatory do go to heaven. The purpose of having a mass said is to help those in purgatory. The mass is also said to pray for God's graces on family members suffering the loss of the deceased. A mass can also be said for those still alive. A sick family member, somone suffering from addiction, someone losing their faith, they can all have a mass said for them. The Church teaches that prayer can help people accept God's graces.


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Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Joe King:
Also, if there were no donations, would the mass really be said? How long would the arrangement last without any money being involved?

As far as the masses, the amount donated is normally $10 or less. My parish asks for a donation of $10 but that includes a mass card that you can give to the family of the person you are having the mass said for. And yes, the mass is said even if you don't make a donation.
Helen Thomas
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

As far as the masses, the amount donated is normally $10 or less.


Usually, the beauty and depth of prayer is proportional to the amount of money donated. And a special mention in the service of the amount of special donations followed by the donater's status in the social order.

It's just as well there is a direct communication link to the Almighty.
Funny how attending Church was omitted from the Ten Commandments. AFAIK.
Which makes offshoring the Church all the easier.
[ June 18, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]
Derek Grey
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Ohhhh!!! CRAP....
Joe King
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Thomas, thanks for taking the time for the in-depth reply...

Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

Let's not get carried away by the way the Pope lives. He actually lives a very simple life. Many of the donations to the Church were in the form of art and much of the Church's wealth is in that form as well. Should the Church sell the Sistine Chapel?

The problem is that no matter how simple his life is, its still a life that many of us would consider above average, and its still in a palace. This does seem a bit at odds with the churches description of itself as an organisation that believes in charity.

Yearly revenue to the Vatican is about $200 million. About 25% of that is in the form of donations. That money is used to maintain the Vatican and its many treasures and pay the salaries of the 4,000 people that work in Vatican City.

Perhaps it may be better to turn over the palaces to the Italian government to maintain (I'm sure they have a better financial ability to maintain them than the Vatican, which has a far smaller economy), and have the church set a better example by living in an operating out of slightly more modest accommodation. Surely that 25% ($50 million) could be better utilised and reduced some what by having the church run in a slightly less lavish way.
The Pope does travel a lot and the cost of that comes out of that as well. And there are many organizations that the Church runs through the Vatican to support charitable ventures.

This however is good. I think the current pope does do a lot of good in promoting charitable causes, but think what a great example it'd be if he said "I'm going to live in a normal house and give the money saved to charity. The church will also be run from a simple office, and the money saved there will be given to charity". By setting an example of being less materialistic it would send out a great message to members of the church that they can also give up some of their luxuries to help charity.

Why have a mass said, is the other question that was asked. Catholics believe that those who die in a state of sin, but not a serious mortal sin, go to a place called purgatory.

A bit like school detention then? You know that you've done something wrong and have to sit out the punishment, but you also know that you get to go somewhere better at the end of it.
Purgatory is a place of cleansing where our sins are removed from us. One person described it as a place where all the suffering that your sins introduced into the world is laid out to you. Purgatory does involve some suffering (not necessarily physical suffering)although it is suffering tempered by the knowledge that you will go to heaven. The Church teaches that all souls in purgatory do go to heaven.

OK, understand it so far, but the next few bits are a bit confusing:
The purpose of having a mass said is to help those in purgatory.

Do those people who do not have mass said for them suffer more then? Isn't that a bit unfair on people without many friends/family?
The mass is also said to pray for God's graces on family members suffering the loss of the deceased.

Wouldn't he have already decided if he was going to give his graces? Or is his will influenced by us asking? Again, does this mean that people without many friends/family get a worse deal?
[ June 18, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Joe King
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Originally posted by Helen Thomas:
It's just as well there is a direct communication link to the Almighty.

This is one of the confusing things about organised religion - why is it needed? If everyone has a "direct link", then surely there isn't much point in a large structured church. I don't mean that there should be no inter-church organisation (some can be useful for things like co-ordination charity work etc), but what's the point of having large complex organisations of bishops, deans, arch bishops and popes? What's the point in having extremely large and complex churches? I know that old ones were built for political reasons, but why are newer ones still built as large complex expensive structures? Surely all that's needed is a local town hall to meet up in to discuss things.

Funny how attending Church was omitted from the Ten Commandments. AFAIK.

I've seen some interesting discussions about this kind of issue in other places. Some people have argued that Jesus thought that the end of the world would happen fairly soon after his death, and so he hadn't stressed the need for a church. Although this doesn't concern the commandments, maybe its why the NT doesn't really talk about church structures all that much.

The other reason could be that there is (IIRC) a commandment along the lines of "keep the sabbath holy". Maybe the writers of the commandments assumed that, given the cultural tendency of people to worship in temples a lot at the time, that telling people to keep a day holy would also mean to them that they should spend some of it in temples.

Which makes offshoring the Church all the easier.
[ June 18, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]

I don't know if it would make much difference even if it was a commandment - loads of christians ignore some of them anyway. How many christians have at some point not respected their parents? How many chrisitians have worked on a sabbath? Perhaps they're not so much commandments as guidelines.....
[ June 18, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Thomas Paul
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JK: The problem is that no matter how simple his life is, its still a life that many of us would consider above average, and its still in a palace. This does seem a bit at odds with the churches description of itself as an organisation that believes in charity.

TP: The Church believes in charity (and is, in fact, extremely chartiable, but the Church lives in the world. At least some of the influence that the Pope has on governments around the world comes from the wealth of the Church and its relative independence from foreign nations. Would George W. Bush really bother to visit the Pope if he lived in a studio apartment above a deli in Florence? I might also remind you that the Pope has had someone try to murder him on at least one occassion. The Pope needs some level of protection which might not be available if the Vatican was not independent.

JK: Perhaps it may be better to turn over the palaces to the Italian government to maintain (I'm sure they have a better financial ability to maintain them than the Vatican, which has a far smaller economy), and have the church set a better example by living in an operating out of slightly more modest accommodation. Surely that 25% ($50 million) could be better utilised and reduced some what by having the church run in a slightly less lavish way.

TP: First, I doubt very much that the Church is run "lavishly". Certainly, the Vatican has many beautiful treasures including the buildings and the art work but these things were built by people for the Church and to the greater glory of God, not to the government of Italy. Please keep in mind that the main purpose of the Church is to help people get to heaven. Reminding people of the glory of God is a key part of that purpose. As far as the $25 million, how far do you think that would really go in solving the problems of the world? (Compare it to the salary of an Enron executive.) Would people continue to give that $25 million if it wasn't needed to maintain the Vatican? And the $25 million comes out to about 2 cents per Roman Catholic.

JK: By setting an example of being less materialistic it would send out a great message to members of the church that they can also give up some of their luxuries to help charity.

TP: I think it would be very difficult to find a man less materialistic than this Pope.

JK: Do those people who do not have mass said for them suffer more then? Isn't that a bit unfair on people without many friends/family?

TP: Unfair, no. As the saying goes, we reap what we sow. Those who fill the world with their love, generosity, and kindness will be rewarded with prayers from those they left behind. As the Beatles say, the love you take is equal to love you make.

JK: Wouldn't he have already decided if he was going to give his graces? Or is his will influenced by us asking?

TP: Now you are getting into metaphysical issues that are too complex for me to expain. I would suggest St. Augustine as an expert in this area. St. Agustine talks about time as being a human experience and not something God experiences. To say that God is subject to cause and effect is to subscribe a human experience to God. It's much more complext than that.

The City of God (Modern Library Classics)
by Marcus Dods (Translator), Thomas Merton (Introduction), Saint Augustine (Author)

[ June 18, 2004: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
Joe King
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

TP: The Church believes in charity (and is, in fact, extremely chartiable, but the Church lives in the world. At least some of the influence that the Pope has on governments around the world comes from the wealth of the Church and its relative independence from foreign nations. Would George W. Bush really bother to visit the Pope if he lived in a studio apartment above a deli in Florence?

If Bush only wants to speak to religious leaders because of their wealth rather than their position in the church hierarchy, then it reflects badly on him, rather than the Pope. I don't think that the church needs to be rich, or have a large amount of wealth to be influential. Didn't Jesus just have a hill side to preach from? A hugely wealthy church seems a long way from that example.
I might also remind you that the Pope has had someone try to murder him on at least one occassion. The Pope needs some level of protection which might not be available if the Vatican was not independent.

I totally agree that he needs proper protection (there are a lot of sad desperate people out there who would try to hurt him), but that does not necessarily mean that the Pope should be maintained as the head of an independent state. The Vatican City's independence is probably more down to the unique history it has as a once powerful country, rather than for reasons of running the church better. Its probably only independent because the unifiers of Italy didn't feel politically strong enough to totally remove the church's secular power.

TP: First, I doubt very much that the Church is run "lavishly". Certainly, the Vatican has many beautiful treasures including the buildings and the art work but these things were built by people for the Church and to the greater glory of God, not to the government of Italy.

It is also likely that many of the palaces were built for political reasons. The church was a huge player in European politics and a powerful state in its own right for a long time. Building large impressive churches helped to reinforce the idea of the Pope being a powerful ruler and helped keep the other countries under his influence.
Please keep in mind that the main purpose of the Church is to help people get to heaven. Reminding people of the glory of God is a key part of that purpose.

Is a elaborate church really the best way of doing this though? Surely nature itself is impressive and glorious enough. Does the church think that gold plated candles and expensive ceremonial clothing is more glorious than nature?
As far as the $25 million, how far do you think that would really go in solving the problems of the world? (Compare it to the salary of an Enron executive.) Would people continue to give that $25 million if it wasn't needed to maintain the Vatican? And the $25 million comes out to about 2 cents per Roman Catholic.

Well I agree that the $25million itself wouldn't do that much, but it would set a great example. Every penny that the church keeps which it doesn't need is a penny that could be better used elsewhere.

JK: By setting an example of being less materialistic it would send out a great message to members of the church that they can also give up some of their luxuries to help charity.

TP: I think it would be very difficult to find a man less materialistic than this Pope.


While the man himself may lead a simple enough life, the overall impression of the leaders of the church are a group of people living in very impressive buildings wearing expensively made clothing, generally leading a fairly easy life. Whether or not this is true, its not the best message for the church to be sending out. The message of helping the poor is a fantastic one, but it looses its emphasis slightly when being read from a palace.

JK: Do those people who do not have mass said for them suffer more then? Isn't that a bit unfair on people without many friends/family?

TP: Unfair, no. As the saying goes, we reap what we sow. Those who fill the world with their love, generosity, and kindness will be rewarded with prayers from those they left behind. As the Beatles say, the love you take is equal to love you make.

What about a person with no family, and few friends? This may not be a fault of theirs (they may live in an isolated place), but they seem to be disadvantaged compared to a person with a large family.

JK: Wouldn't he have already decided if he was going to give his graces? Or is his will influenced by us asking?

TP: Now you are getting into metaphysical issues that are too complex for me to expain. I would suggest St. Augustine as an expert in this area. St. Agustine talks about time as being a human experience and not something God experiences. To say that God is subject to cause and effect is to subscribe a human experience to God. It's much more complext than that.

The City of God (Modern Library Classics)
by Marcus Dods (Translator), Thomas Merton (Introduction), Saint Augustine (Author)

[ June 18, 2004: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]

Thanks for the links, I shall look through them (when I've got a spare day or two ).

I suppose things like the effect of prayer are never really going to be understood. Although I personally don't believe that there is anything listening to them, I think they can be a comfort to the prayer so they're a good thing for that reason alone. Even as an atheist, I wouldn't ban churches if I was ever in charge - I think they do a lot of good in some places, but I'm not at all comfortable with large religious organisations. I think their reasons for existing are a lot less justified. Even what I've read in the bible doesn't seem to call for a large organised religious hierachy.
Helen Thomas
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I wouldn't ban churches if I was ever in charge - I think they do a lot of good in some places, but I'm not at all comfortable with large religious organisations.

When Bush visited the Pope in the Vatican, the Pope reprimanded him. Pope John Paul II welcomed the appointment of an Iraqi head of State but expressed sorrow at "recent deplorable events". No prizes for guessing what those were.

If Bush visited the Queen she wouldn't dare reprimand him in any of her Palaces or Castles.
Thomas Paul
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Let's look at the first issue... the Church is too wealthy and too big.

The wealth and large size of the Catholic Church is what gives it influence. If the Pope was a small time pastor with 800 parishioners in Florence then no one would care or listen to him. When the Pope makes a statement it is international news because of the size, prestige, and wealth of the Church.

The second issue... the existence of the Vatican as a separate country.

This is very significant as it gives the Pope a secular voice as the head of an independent nation. The Pope can send ambassadors to other countries and other countries send ambassadors to the Vatican. This gives him a strong, independent voice in international politics that would otherwise be muted.

The effect of this can be clearly seen in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Does anyone really think that without an independent and powerful Pope supporting them that the Polish people would have stood up to the USSR? Lech Walesa says that the Pope's support was key in the drive away from the USSR.

As to the "many palaces", are you talking about the churches because the Pope does not own many palaces. As far as the $25 million making a statement, Catholic Charities helped the poor to the tune of $2.5 billion last year. Did anyone make a big deal about that?

In my opinion, the smaller the Church was and the less money the Church had, the easier it would be to ignore and the less influence it would have in the world.
Thomas Paul
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What about a person with no family, and few friends? This may not be a fault of theirs (they may live in an isolated place), but they seem to be disadvantaged compared to a person with a large family.

With less attachment to people, perhaps there would be less opportunity for sin.

According to the Church, God put us in the world to help each other. Those who choose to have no friends would appear to be violating God's command to us.
Thomas Paul
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The Vatican City's independence is probably more down to the unique history it has as a once powerful country, rather than for reasons of running the church better. Its probably only independent because the unifiers of Italy didn't feel politically strong enough to totally remove the church's secular power.

When Italy was reunified in 1870, the Vatican was made part of Italy. It wasn't until 1929 that the Vatican was established as an independent state.
Thomas Paul
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Even what I've read in the bible doesn't seem to call for a large organised religious hierachy.

The entire Old Testament is the story of the development of a relgious hierarchy! And Jesus told Peter that He would build his Church on him. The establishment of bishops with power over their diocese is covered in the New Testament. In fact, the Church of today may be larger but it is not significantly different in its hierarchy compared to the one that met at the first Church council in Jeruslem as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
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Tom: The effect of this can be clearly seen in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Does anyone really think that without an independent and powerful Pope supporting them that the Polish people would have stood up to the USSR?

Chechens fought the Russian Empire for 150+ years, and they still do. Without any significant help from Pope, according to my best knowledge. It's more about a national psyche than religion, I think. Baltic countries are mostly Catholic also (if I am not mistaken), but they were less concerned about national independence.


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HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

The effect of this can be clearly seen in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Does anyone really think that without an independent and powerful Pope supporting them that the Polish people would have stood up to the USSR? Lech Walesa says that the Pope's support was key in the drive away from the USSR.



The Pope Lech Walesa was talking about was Polish. I think he is still Pope.

And yes, he is.

Karol J�zef Wojtyła , known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometres from Cracow, on May 18, 1920.
[ June 22, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Joe King
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

According to the Church, God put us in the world to help each other. Those who choose to have no friends would appear to be violating God's command to us.


Not so nice for people that live in remote places, or are shy!
Joe King
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Originally posted by Helen Thomas:
When Bush visited the Pope in the Vatican, the Pope reprimanded him. Pope John Paul II welcomed the appointment of an Iraqi head of State but expressed sorrow at "recent deplorable events". No prizes for guessing what those were.

If Bush visited the Queen she wouldn't dare reprimand him in any of her Palaces or Castles.


Its probably because the Queen is in a political situation in which she cant really venture an opinion about anything without the republicans saying "Ah! She's interfering in politics Lets get rid of her!".
Joe King
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Let's look at the first issue... the Church is too wealthy and too big.

The wealth and large size of the Catholic Church is what gives it influence. If the Pope was a small time pastor with 800 parishioners in Florence then no one would care or listen to him. When the Pope makes a statement it is international news because of the size, prestige, and wealth of the Church.

I almost agree! I think the size and prestige of the church does give it influence, but that influence would remain without the wealth. Its the number of people that the Pope speaks for that gives him the influence, not the money he has. If the catholic chuch gave all its money to charity and the pope lived in a small flat in Peckam, he'd still have a lot of influence because there are millions of catholics listening to him. Those millions would still listen to him if he wasn't in a palace (unless their idea of holiness is someone who has a posh ceremony).

The second issue... the existence of the Vatican as a separate country.

This is very significant as it gives the Pope a secular voice as the head of an independent nation. The Pope can send ambassadors to other countries and other countries send ambassadors to the Vatican. This gives him a strong, independent voice in international politics that would otherwise be muted.

I disagree. If the Vatican was not an independent country, the Pope could still send representatives to other countries, and would still be listened to. The Pope's influence comes from being the head of a denomination consisting a lot of people, not because of being a head of state (its not like a lot of people listen to the leaders of Andorra). Although being a head of state will mean that representatives of the Pope receive certain legal advantages, I expect that those advantages would still be given even if the Vatica wasn't an independent state - it would annoy to many people if it were not so.


The effect of this can be clearly seen in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Does anyone really think that without an independent and powerful Pope supporting them that the Polish people would have stood up to the USSR? Lech Walesa says that the Pope's support was key in the drive away from the USSR.

It could still have happened. The USSR was beginning to collapse at this point, and it was only a matter of time before the eastern European countries shook off their influence. Even if it couldn't have happened, the Pope's message would have got through to the Polish even if he wasn't a head of state - catholicism is incredibly important in Poland and the people there would probably see his role as head of the church as being vastly more important than him being head of a state.

The only real advantage that the church gets from having an independent state is the ability to be amune to Italian law, although I don't think for a moment that they could do anything about it if the Italians decided to take control.

As to the "many palaces", are you talking about the churches because the Pope does not own many palaces. As far as the $25 million making a statement, Catholic Charities helped the poor to the tune of $2.5 billion last year. Did anyone make a big deal about that?

I agree that the church does give a lot to charity (and thats great), but still think that their message of charity would be better given if not coming from a palace. The leaders of the church are role models for many people, and if the world saw them give up their finery it would send a powerful message of self sacrifice and charity.

In my opinion, the smaller the Church was and the less money the Church had, the easier it would be to ignore and the less influence it would have in the world.

I don't think the church would decrease in size if is had less money. There are other church organisations that are huge without needing independent countries and palaces.
[ June 22, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Thomas Paul
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I disagree. If the Vatican was not an independent country, the Pope could still send representatives to other countries, and would still be listened to.

Obviously we will never agree but I want to point out the obvious contradiction. You say the Church should give up all its wealth but it should still send representatives all around the world. And have them sleep on sewer grates?

I think you are quite wrong if you think that wealth and influence are not related. (Not that the Church is nearly as wealthy or has as many palaces as you seem to think it is.)
Joe King
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

Obviously we will never agree

Well the world (and MD especially) would be a boring place if everyone agreed about everything
Perhaps this forum should be renamed to Meaningless Disagreements.
but I want to point out the obvious contradiction. You say the Church should give up all its wealth but it should still send representatives all around the world. And have them sleep on sewer grates?

I didn't say that the church should give up all of its wealth, but rather that it should cut back a lot on its operating costs. Obviously it still needs to spend some money, in the same way in which the Red Cross needs to spend some money. Representatives also need not be expensive - their role is primarily to pass on a message from the Pope to various world leaders, and to discuss their response. This role could theoretically be done by a local member of the church in that area (who probably has some kind of church sponsored apartment rather than sleeping on grates). There's no reason for a representative to be supported in full ambassadorial glory.

I think you are quite wrong if you think that wealth and influence are not related.

I didn't say that there wasn't a relation - wealth can give influence, but I think that an organisation as large as the Catholic church has tremendous influence that is not derived from its wealth. Being the head of a religion of umpteen million people would get the Pope listened too even if he (and all the other people at the upper end of the church hierarchy) lived and worked from a more modest setting. Even ignoring any religious tendencies of world leaders, a large amount of the electorate in many countries are Catholic, and this gives leaders reason to listen to the Church leaders.
(Not that the Church is nearly as wealthy or has as many palaces as you seem to think it is.)

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about some issues like this
 
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