Catholic Church's Massive Wealth Revealed

By Royce Millar, Ben Schneiders, Chris Vedelago, February 12, 2018, The Sydney Morning Herald

The Catholic Church in Australia is worth tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the country’s biggest non-government property owners, and massively wealthier than it has claimed in evidence to major inquiries into child sexual abuse.

A six-month investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald has found that the church misled the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by grossly undervaluing its property treasures in both NSW and Victoria while claiming that increased payments to abuse victims would require cuts to its social programs.

The investigation was based on intricate data from local councils that allowed more than 1860 valuations of church-owned property in Victoria. That showed that across 36 municipalities - including nearly all of metropolitan Melbourne - the church had land and buildings worth almost $7 billion in 2016.

Extrapolated nationally, using conservative assumptions, the church owns property worth more than $30 billion Australia-wide.

This put the Catholic church among the largest non-government property owners, by value, in NSW and Australia, rivalling Westfield’s network of shopping centres and other assets. It dwarfs all other large property owners.

"These figures confirm what we have known; there is huge inequity between the Catholic Church’s wealth and their responses to survivors," said Helen Last, chief executive of the In Good Faith Foundation.

"The 600 survivors registered for our Foundation’s services continue to experience minimal compensation and lack of comprehensive care in relation to their Church abuses. They say their needs are the lowest of church priorities.’’

The Herald’s findings come in the wake of the Royal Commission’s final report in December and raises serious new questions about the church’s decades-long bid to protect its assets and minimise compensation payments.

They also call into question the privileges the church enjoys, including billions of dollars in government funding each year to run services, exemptions from almost all forms of taxation, and minimal public accountability.

Monetary payments to abuse survivors have averaged just $49,000 under Towards Healing, the national compensation system established by the church in 1996.

The investigation included 40 Freedom of Information requests to local councils in Victoria, protracted negotiations for release of data from often reluctant authorities, and exclusive access to state government-owned information.

It identified church-owned properties across 36 municipalities - including nearly all of metropolitan Melbourne - with “capital improved values” (this includes land plus buildings) of just under $7 billion.

While the property portfolio features many churches, hospitals and schools, so too does it include offices, conference centres, car parks, mobile phone towers, tennis courts, and a restaurant.

The SMH used that data to extrapolate a conservative estimate of $30 billion in Catholic-owned property and other assets across Australia.

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  • John Nesbella
    commented 2018-02-13 20:17:34 -0600
    I’m wondering if anyone out there has a good estimate of worldwide total accumulated wealth of the RCC? It must rival (if not surpass) the economic power of the US, China and EU (not to even mention the influence it exercises over the nearly one billion people that are catholic). In terms of controlling the planet-this organization could really change the world if it wanted to. This would explain why the priests and leaders of this ‘church’ can molest perhaps a million children and get away with it. They really do control the world. There might be only one (or two) hopes for ever freeing the world from the grip of the Vatican: the rise of the militant Islam and their attack and destruction of the RCC or second having a large asteroid collide with earth purifying the planet of this false ‘christian’ nation-state. Either case would be a god-send.
  • John Nesbella
    commented 2018-02-13 16:21:32 -0600
    All this wealth was not the product of productive labor-it was donated to the church. And the people have absolutely zero say about what is done with that money. There is no accounting for it either. It’s all under control of the bishops and pope. I will give you one example. The parish in my home town saved $300,000 dollars to build a church hall. They worked and saved for over 20 years to save the money. One day we got a new bishop. He decided to close our parish and took the $300,000 and the people couldn’t do jack about it. By church law-the bishop owns everything and can do as he pleases. We know it went for secret pay outs to coverup for sexual molester priests-who are now retired and still priests.

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