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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:04 PM
Original message
Question - How much property does the Catholic church
own in the US? Is it all owned by the church or by local churches?
The question came up in conversation over the holiday.
Corollary - how much property is owned by all chuches in the US?

The reason the catholics were singled out is because we thought they were the largest single organization, whereas protestants were many different churches and sects. It all started when we were watching 'Bells of St. Mary's'.
And one last question - do many churches have income properties such as apartments or rental houses etc? Just curios and not sure how to research it. Thanks.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
1. Nobody really knows.
However, the Televangelical community might well give the Roman Catholic Church a run for their money these days.
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. True - wonder how Pat Robertson has his properties
registered. Or the gold mines etc. Or how Falwell and Dobson have stuff registered?
I have no qualm with real churches but I've got a sneaking hunch that hiding stuff under a church registration could be a huge scandal. But I doubt that anyone would touch it with a ten-foot pole. At least any one who wanted to get elected.
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Lefty48197 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I get the feeling Pat Robertson could pay cash for the Vatican
and then some...
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
2. I think your answer is all of the above
Some property is owned by the diocese, some by local churches.

I have no idea how much property is owned by the RCC but I would suspect it is more than we realize.
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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. And how many churches have property in one of their member's name?
I knew of one instance of that a few years ago. There's also been a few preachers that have managed to put their newly bought house in their church's name. Lots of "fuzzy math" goes on with some congregations.
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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:17 PM
Response to Original message
4. Most church property is held under 'corporation sole' in the resident
or district Bishop's name. Parishes, catholic school property and other properties are always in the Bishop's name; they do not belong to the priest in residence or to the layity who support them. The RCC has extensive resort and hospital holdings most of which belong to either a catholic consortium or to the Vatican.
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jaysunb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:19 PM
Response to Original message
5. I think you meant to ask
" what don't they own " :evilgrin:
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. In that vein -
there is an awful lot of property off the tax rolls. I've always thought that churches should at least pay for fire and police protestion. From what I understand they pretty much pay nothing for any property that is religiously oriented.
Not why I asked the question. As we watched the movie we started talking about how many churches in a city like Chicago etc. It occured to us that the RCC could easily be the single largest landowner in the US behind the government.
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Aimah Donating Member (598 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:30 PM
Response to Original message
9. This might help..
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:35 PM
Response to Original message
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.
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Sarah Ibarruri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 07:46 PM
Response to Original message
11. I always wonder how much property is owned by...
Falwell, Robertson, and the rest of the capitalist faux preachers. I've also wondered who owns their churches. For example, a Church of God building, who owns that? Does the church own it? Does the preacher? Is it rented? How is the 10% tithing obligatorily contributed by congregants get distributed? I've also always thought that someone who preaches the alleged word of God should not be paid. They should have a job on the side, and not expect the congregants to pay. Ah well, but that's just me.

I'm not too interested in the Catholic Church (I'm Jewish) because their churches are not owned by specific individuals, but by the church as a whole.

Just my two cents.
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-26-05 08:26 PM
Response to Original message
12. Here's an article from 2002 that might help shed some light.
The Vatican does not have a responsibility, not in a strict sense, for a diocese's finances, said Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, who headed the Vatican's budget planning office through much of the 1990s.
The bishop in a diocese is responsible for his diocese, he told The Associated Press.

(snip)

In July, however, the Vatican reported its first deficit in nine years -- about $3 million -- and blamed the shortfall on the worldwide financial slump aggravated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

(snip)

Church officials say the Vatican's real estate holdings, mainly buildings in and around Vatican City, are listed on the books as worth about $650 million.

But that doesn't include what are considered priceless holdings such as St. Peter's Basilica, part of the trust for humanity. Its worth is listed as a symbolic one euro, a Vatican accountant, Ivan Ruggiero, told a news conference in July.

http://www.telegram.com/static/crisisinthechurch/121202...
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