(Source: José María Castillo, Spanish theologian; translation: Novena)

Pope Francis met, in the Vatican, with Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s committee of experts [on the evaluation of anti-money laundering anti-financing of terrorism measures – ed.]. And he reminded them that Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple with a whip. The information that the Gospels give us about this matter is well-known. In short, what does the Gospel teach us?

God does not want worship offered to him that comes from charging money. Moreover, God detests it, abhors it, rejects it, forbids it.

Now, if this is so and we believe in it, why does the Church allow and tolerate priests to charge money for the sacraments they administer in parishes and in so many churches, temples, monasteries and convents? Do we or do we not believe in the Gospel?

At the heart of the problem is the fact that those responsible for the government of the Church allow secular and regular clergy to live off the worship paid to God.

Thus, in practice, the “apostolic ministry” has become a “career”, off which those who exercise that ministry live.

And what is more serious: those who live this “career” are people who dedicate themselves to doing what Jesus forbade the apostles: “Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts” (Mk 6:7-13; Mt 10:5-15; Lk 9:1-6).

And we know the conduct of St. Paul: “We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (1 Thess 2:9; cf. Acts 18:1-4; 1 Thess 4:10ff; 2 Thess 3:6-12; 1 Cor 4:12; 9:4-18; 2 Cor 11:7-12; 12:13-18; Acts 20:33-35).

If the New Testament insists so much on this without a shade of a doubt, it is that the Church has a lot at stake here.

Without a doubt, the very existence of the Church is at stake here.

The Church cannot be at the service of those who give her money, such that it can live without working.

In every parish or in every community, let them put an employee in charge of the work and services that the parish or the community needs. And let the presidency of the community be exercised by the one who is elected by the community, in agreement with the bishop. Or in agreement with the provincial superior, in the case of religious.

Why is the Church so afraid of these kinds of decisions? Why does she prefer to be a slave to those who have money and support her, so that she in turn can support them? This is what we see in politics and in government.

The Church has to be courageous. It has to live off what everyone else lives off: not off religious belief, but off work and productiveness.

The time has come to be or not be. And the being of the believer is born, grows and lives from “following Jesus”.

But to follow Jesus is to leave everything behind. And to live as Jesus lived. And if we are not willing to do that, let’s be sincere, honest, and consistent.

God did not “become flesh”, God himself did not “become a human” so that we can use God, this God, to organise parties, shows… Are we going to “use God”, to live without working or to have a blast? Enough, please!

More on Novena by José María Castillo:

Spanish theologian blasts “many” priests “who use religion to get power and be important people”: “This is intolerable”

Spanish theologian laments: “Too many people are leaving church with a clear conscience”

Why doesn’t God stop the pandemic? Because to heal the sick is what God wants of us

Spanish theologian: “Power, money, unequal relationships… The Church lives a lot of things that contradict what Jesus said and did”