MONEY AND RELIGION

Aurelio Porfiri

In recent months, I published a book that I co-wrote with Professor Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, a banker and economist and former president of the IOR (Istituto per le Opere di Religione), what is commonly known as the “Vatican Bank.” The book, La cruna dell’ago (hopefully will soon be available in other languages) shows the relationship between ethics, economy and Christianity. Someone said that it is strange that a musician like myself talks about such topics, but I wonder why such questions are raised. Then I want to reflect on a very interesting fact, that for certain people it is not possible to talk about money when art is involved, with the idea that money makes art sort of dirty, they imagine that artists are “pure spirits.” No, I assure you that artists are not pure spirits and that they need to eat, they too need medical assistance sometimes and they need a place to live. All of this costs money, and they earn their livelihood only through their “art,” that is their job. Artists who produce art need to live first, they need to be in the position to work freely having what is necessary to support themselves and their families.

A similar question is raised when money is close to the word “religion”. Some people think that when you raise monetary questions related to religion, you are corrupting something. Of course everyone who has a little understanding of the things of the world knows that in order to run any institution, you need money, you need to pay people working for you and also to pay for everything involved. The same holds true with regard to our churches – they need money for their maintenance. You will need to pay for the flowers, cleaning and electricity. You need to support the priests and you should support everyone (including professional musicians) that make the liturgy better. What professor Gotti Tedeschi and myself are trying to convey through this book is that the problem is not with money, but how we use it.

If money serves our purposes it is good, when we become servants of money that is bad. When money is used to fulfill good things, of course it is well used. Let us consider this quote by Ayn Rand: “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” The problem is not money for the cult but the cult of money.

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