In the discussion thread: Pope Slams Capitalism, Inequality Between Rich And Poor In New Years Message [View all]
Response to Fire Walk With Me (Reply #65)
Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:48 PM
allrevvedup (408 posts)
66. The Vatican only owns its property in Rome
and its nuncios, and Vatican City is about as big as an average urban university. Catholic properties (parishes, hospitals, etc) are typically owned by their local bishop, and since the pope is the bishop of Rome, he only "owns" his Roman property and the Vatican embassies. Here's a discussion of the question posted on DU eight years ago:
happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Mon Dec-26-05 08:35 PM
10. The General Rule is Catholic Property is owned by the Bishop/Diocese
This is based on the old Middle age Concept that the Property of a political/Religious unit is owned by the person in charge of that Political/Religious unit. In the Middle ages (Before modern concepts of land ownership appeared) the King was viewed as owning everything he had NOT sold to someone else (and this is still the theory on Land Titles in the US, you are the "Tenant" of the "King" who since July 4th, 1776 is now your state the land is in NOT the King of England). Wild Animals are owned by the "King" (Now the State) till taken as game EVEN IF ON PROPERTY OWNED BY A PRIVATE OWNER.
In the Middle ages this was Even more severe. If you were the Ruler of a an area you were also viewed as owning everything in that Kingdom or Dukedom or County etc. Bishops were viewed as having that same "power" except restricted to "Religious" property. Thus, unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, any property owned by the Catholic Church in a Diocese is "owned" by that Diocese's Bishop (and thus the Diocese).
You have exceptions, the house of the Papal Nuncio (The Ambassador from the Vatican) is "owned" by the Vatican not the Catholic Bishop of Washington. Other exemptions include Jesuits and Franciscan's (and other religious orders, including female religious orders) Monasteries, Convents, Schools, Retreats etc. are often owned by the Religious Society as opposed to the Diocese. You sometime have disputes when a Parish has its own funds, that the Diocese views as its own (Year to Year operating funds are rarely in dispute, but large endowments are often disputed especially when an old Church is closed i.e. what to do with that Parish's funds given the parish no longer exists).
My point here is a clear picture would take a lot of Research as to how various lands are held within a Diocese. If it is NOT clear otherwise the property belongs to the Diocese (and thus the Bishop).
Note the Pope is the "Bishop of Rome" NOT the "Bishop of the World" thus the only property the pope owns in in the Diocese of Rome EXCEPT where it is clear the papacy is the owner of the property instead of the local Bishop (Papal Nuncio and other Vatican missions are examples of this).
One note on the "Riches" of the Vatican, a lot of it are Art and Sculpture that any secular ruler of the 1500-1800s had to have to show he was a successful ruler. With expansion of Democracy such objects are no longer fashionable but the Vatican has more than most countries and have adopted a policy that other countries have adopted for such arts objects (i.e. put them in Museums so people can see them). The Vatican has several such Museums (Including one on "profane" art i.e. non-religious art objects) in Rome. These art objects are both valuable and in-valuable. I hate to say it the best solution to what to do with them is what the Vatican (and other European Governments with similar Art abjects obtains during the same time period) have done, put them in Museum instead of selling them to private collectors where most people will never see them.
The long and short of it is that the Vatican owns about as much real estate as a typical state university. Ironically enough, when I was there last October, Italy announced plans to repeal its tax exemptions on all religions properties including the Vatican.
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The Vatican only owns its property in Rome
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