The pope is in North America on his latest concert tour. This is one tour I won’t complain about not coming to Vancouver, as it covers the U.S. only. The easily impressed flock to see him so that they may feel graced by his presence. They buy up all the souvenirs and concert T-shirts and hold up their lighters shouting, “Yaaaaahhhh!”
Seriously, this is big business. A papal tour is worth hundreds of millions. I mean, $695 for a porcelain statue of the guy? The mark up on these mass produced mementos is - dare I say it - a sin. Well, it would be if there was a god for it to qualify as a crime against, but, you get the idea. The pope has criticized Canada in the recent past for not doing enough to narrow the gap between rich and poor. Then the church gouges its own followers like this? Talk about excessive profits. Is a ‘toy pope with your Happy Meal’ McDonald’s deal next?
Ever since they were introduced by his predecessor, papal tours have been a nice little earner for the Catholic church. Souvenirs of all kinds have been sold at extortionate prices to the suckers - I mean, faithful. Remember the famous John Paul II pope-on-a-rope soap? I wonder if it washed away sins. His tours turned him into a larger than life personality - rivaling Jesus, himself – that the church capitalized on. Well, who could blame them? There was a lot of money to be made.
But, what about all that money? Couldn’t all those good Catholics have used it to feed hungry people instead of the church and their own pride? Let’s face it, those souvenirs will be shown off as proof that they’ve seen the pope. Bragging rights will be theirs. Bragging will ensue. Some might say the profits are used to feed the hungry. Are they? I’m not so certain of that. The Catholic church is a large organisation with broad financial interests. They invest on the stock market and are probably one of the great institutional investors of the world. At one point, I believe, they were the largest - possibly the majority – shareholder of Coca Cola. That’s pretty big.
They know how to market the pope like a rock star. Pretty savvy. They know how to exploit their star to turn a healthy profit. That’s entertainment. They know how to invest and manage huge sums of money. That’s rich. And, they don’t pay a penny in taxes. That’s really rich. Even Hollywood couldn’t hide profits that well.
I’ve written before about how the church doesn’t use nearly all the money it takes in for charity. In fact, the crumbs they give out to the truly needy along with their prayers are probably nothing compared to what they have available to them. This is a very large corporation with vast assets that generates huge revenues and profits, but doesn’t pay tax. It’s time that came to an end.