Friday, November 1, 2019


Yet Another Mess the Catholic Church Has Gotten Into.

I do understand the desire to invest, to try to hedge against uncertainty in budgeting due to fluctuating donations - much of that fluctuation caused, however, by institutional bone-headed moves.

But, buying swanky real estate in EU capital cities? Gambling with the money by betting on rising real estate prices.

Look. SOME investment in real estate may pay off well - some not. Most people investing in a REASONABLY priced house will see some appreciation in the value over time - DECADES of time. It's one of the reasons that people buy homes, rather than rent.

Our current home, God willing, will bring in a tidy profit when we sell - enough to just about fully fund a MODEST home in our new location. We've been working for many years to recover from some dumb financial decisions, and the effort has, so far, paid off. We're reaching the point where we have very little debt, and some diversified savings. A good place to be at this point.

The Institutional Church needs to downsize. The Vatican needs to cut its staff in HALF, at least. Any cleric released needs to go to a 3rd world country - under the supervision of a very strict bishop - and learn to be a working priest again. That includes living like the people of that country - hard and spartan. Those countries can send their priests to the USA, where they can be very useful in re-establishing actual Catholicism in American churches. Less time on social justice activities, more time teaching Catholic doctrine, and providing essential assistance to their parish.

I live in a parish that has had priests from multiple countries (we're a pretty big parish) - Brazil, Italy, Viet Nam, other parts of the US. The impact on our church has been quite positive.

Same thing with the Dioceses - reduce the flab, use the empty space for activities that teach about Catholic Doctrine - and put it into practice. Help the struggling city parishes to rent out space (offices for small businesses just starting out?) and get them away from having to be subsidized. Initiate some SERIOUS evangelical activity - there certainly are enough people who have need of God's love - find them.

Maybe somebody needs to read about Franciscan principles again.


Francis W. Porretto said...

The problems with using real estate as an investment in the usual, naive sense are three:
1) Inflation;
2) Carrying charges;
3) Maintenance.

It costs to hold real estate in most places. (At least, I can't name a locale where real estate is untaxed.) It also costs to keep the structures on it in good repair -- and it costs more if the owner doesn't live there. Finally, currency inflation tends to knock all such calculations askew. In a sober analysis, it's a very chancy way to "invest."

Francis W. Porretto said...

Allow me to add this: I've lived in my current home for 39 years. Over that time, my property taxes have increased faster than the rate of inflation as gauged from the Consumer Price Index (CPI): on average, more than 3.7% per year. This escalation of one of the most important carrying charges for owning real estate is exceedingly difficult to foresee reliably. It makes real estate as an investment chancier still.

Linda Fox said...

I've had the good fortune to living in several places with low cost of living - and we still took a bath on 2 of the houses. We sold one super-cheap, because it was to my son - who'd not had much given to him financially before. He was frugal, but he got nailed with a bad economy just when he left the service.

We're not counting on the money, just fairly sure that we will do better than even.