“The Poor are always with us”

“Have faith in Francis” The Forum, SMH, 17 March displays a remarkable lack of knowledge that is not unusual. The writer wouldn’t be surprised if Pope Francis dispenses with much of the Church’s “material wealth”. I would be surprised if he did – the Pope doesn’t own the wonderful art treasures in the Vatican any more than the Queen owns the treasures in the various castles and towers of the UK. A major difference here is that the Pope doesn’t actually own much at all whereas the Queen seems to have become one of the richest figures in the world.
Another point is that in the news of the week mention was made of the downturn in the Italian economy and part of this downturn was attributed to tourism and lack of “charisma” in Pope Benedict. Could you imagine what would happen to the tourism industry if suggestions that Vatican treasures were sold off to reside in the vaults of American/Russian billionaires? And when the same suggestion is made about the treasures of the UK – what would happen to the tourist industry there?
I would suggest that correspondents and activists should think beyond the immediate problems of countries and realise that once gone and the money distributed “to the poor”, the world would not have these works of art (usually built up over the centuries and in the case of the Papacy, by patronage of artists) but the poor would still be with us, and the economies of the countries would be forever wrecked.

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