How rich is Pope Francis?
Pope Francis net worth:
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Pope Francis Net Worth, Wiki & Biography in 2017
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936, in Flores, Buenos Aires Argentina, to parents who were both children of Italian migrants. As the Bishop of Rome and therefore Pope to which position he was elected by the papal conclave on 13 March 2013, Francis is the head of the Catholic Church, with an estimated world-wide congregation of 1.2 billion people and, as such, in conjunction with the riches of the Church, holds a position which enables Forbes magazine to rank him in 2016 as the fifth most powerful person in the world.
So just how rich is Pope Francis? Of course, the Pope has minimal personal wealth, but he is notionally the manager of all the assets of the Catholic Church, through The Vatican hierarchy. However, these assets are difficult to value in total, as some are not only invaluable, some unique, but also will never be sold. Further, religious groups don’t need to follow normal rules of accounting and disclosure, so estimating the value of the Church’s assets built-up over the centuries, and even annual income from so many sources, is impossible. Evaluation is even more difficult, as in many cases each diocese is a separate entity, for example in the USA.
Pope Francis Net Worth $? Billion $?
The purpose of this site is to identify wealth, so this aspect first. Common estimates put the Catholic Church’s wealth at around $15 billion, however, a few figures may give some idea of the Church’s real net worth. A frequently quoted investigation by The Economist magazine into American Catholicism in 2012, concluded that in the USA the Church regularly spends $170 billion on church-affiliated hospitals and institutions of higher education, although only around $11 billion a year on parish operations. According to Georgetown University, American Catholics alone regularly donate $10 per week on average, so the 85 million Catholics in the USA contribute well over $400 billion per year. (In comparison, Apple and General Motors each have worldwide revenue of about $150 billion.)
The Vatican is known to have gold reserves alone to the value of several billion dollars, including in the US Federal Reserve, and of course even a casual assessment of the real estate owned world-wide by the Church would add many more billions to that figure. The Vatican City itself has a rich economy relative to its size; the exact GDP figure is unknown, but authoritative estimates place the Vatican City’s current annual revenue at over $350 million. For a population of around 800 people, this means GDP per capita is well over $400,000, making it the richest state on earth by some way.
Overall, the Vatican has a very dense but widespread investment portfolio, holding billions of shares in some of the most powerful international corporations, for example in Gulf Oil, General Motors, General Electric, IBM, Shell and many others. The Church also has large investments with the Rothschild family, and in a number of world-renowned banks, which in the United States alone include the Morgan Bank, Chase-Manhattan, Bankers Trust Company and a number of others. Even the Vatican’s own bank – formerly the Institute for the Works of Religion – made a profit of $76 million in 2014.
Writer and philosopher Avro Manhattan suggests that the Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. It’s a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state worldwide. The Pope, as the visible ruler of this immense accumulation of wealth, is consequently the richest individual of the twentieth-first century, although as pointed out, no one can realistically assess how much he is worth in terms of billions of dollars.
However, regardless of the often opulent appearance of religious institutions, Pope Francis’ public persona indicates a person of simple tastes and humble lifestyle. Well, he even worked as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer before studying to be a priest; he was ordained in 1969 into the Jesuits, meantime teaching literature and psychology in high school.
He was appointed Principal Superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in 1973, and subsequently travelled to Jerusalem, lived for a time in Ireland where he learnt English, and in the mid-’80s spent several months in Germany. Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992, and Co-adjutor Archbishop with right of automatic succession in 1997, which happened in 1998. He was created Cardinal in 2001.
Pope Francis has clearly been consistent throughout his religious career in his attitude to serving the poor, speaking out, for example, against the military dictatorship in Argentina, fighting corruption both within and outside the Church, and living a very modest lifestyle himself. In his Papacy, he wears the same iron cross he has had since being anointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, plus a simple silver papal ring – not gold. Extravagant vestments are nowhere to be seen, with the Pope wearing relatively plain, modest whites. He carries his own bags during his travels, and still prefers public transportation and open cars over chauffeur-driven limousines and the ‘pope-mobile’. This humility also extends to day-to-day living, as he resides in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse in preference to the papal apartments, and into the kitchen; baked chicken with salad and an average wine is quite normal, although some would say hardly a meal fit for a leader of over 1.2 billion people.
Pope Francis is perhaps the ideal personality to reform the Catholic Church, as deemed necessary to many at this point in the 21st century, and persuade the clergy to concentrate on serving their congregations rather than the other way around.