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Vatican to train religious communities to not give up their rich historical patrimony

The Vatican wants to put an end to two major problems related to the Church’s patrimony: the theft of historical objects in churches and the sale of artwork by religious organizations without consulting Rome.

President, Pontifical Council for Culture
“Let’s think of a religious order that has an 11th century manuscript. It cannot just sell it quietly on its own and skip the canonical links there.”

The problem is also fueled by a decrease in the number of consecrated religious. Today they are fewer, elderly, and they have a historical and cultural heritage that is financially challenging to maintain. That’s why they decide to sell it, to sustain themselves or pay off debts.

To ensure important works in the Church don’t get sold, the Vatican has decided to convene an international conference on the topic on May 4 and 5.

It aims to make religious congregations aware of their responsibility to maintain their heritage and ways of properly managing it.

Secretary, Congregation Institutes of Consecrated Life
“In the case of religious congregations, the one who gives permission to sell goods is us, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life. And we have a serious problem, I must say, because many times we find out that a significant patrimony has disappeared and there is nothing we can do.”

The Vatican will teach communities how to catalog their patrimony and monitor its maintenance. This will make it easier to detect theft and take stock of the real value of a congregation’s heritage.

In recent years, it has organized other meetings to help financial managers of dioceses and institutions to more carefully oversee the Church’s assets. With the next conference in May it intends to go a step further, and raise awareness and train members of religious congregations.

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