Friday, August 11, 2006

Where did a priest get all that cash?

A reader of this blog asked me to comment on this story: Priest leaves nearly $1 million to diocese. The upshot is a retired priest left a large sum of money to his diocese. The question they have is where would a priest get all that money?

The first thing that needs to be made clear is that diocesan priests, unlike members of religious orders, do not take vows of poverty. We can own personal property. However, considering what our salaries are, there usually isn't the opportunity to accumulate wealth. (Do not get me wrong, I think high salaries for priests is an awful idea that would lead to luxury lifestyles not in accord with our vocations.) Also, priests are not to be involved in commercial endeavors. (No selling Amway on the side.) So, he likely didn't get the cash through his salary.

How then could he have come by it? It might have been family money left to him. Or, it might have been left to him by a non-family bequest. Or, he might have invested his spare cash very well. Or, he might have won the lottery. (I have my own fantasy about that. It involves a working Civil War replica cannon.) I other words there are many ways he could have come by it in perfectly acceptable ways.

I think it is ok for a priest, or anyone for that matter, to have that kind of wealth as long as they use it well and in accord with their state of life. He certainly insured that it would be used for good purposes after his death.
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