You know, it could work. Consider the Vatican’s net worth as reported by Paul Velelli in the London Independent:
• The Vatican Bank, Istituto per le Opere di Religione, manages £2bn of assets. It does not reveal its profits or dividends, which are paid directly to the Pope. It enjoys the status of a central bank and has a dealing room adorned with crucifixes and papal portraits where 20 traders work.
• Despite the Vatican’s assets, including the art collection in the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, it relies heavily on support from American dioceses.
• The Pope owns more than 1,000 apartments in Rome. The Vatican’s property portfolio made a profit of 25.7bn lira in 1998, equivalent to about £10m at the time.
• The Vatican had a balance of 2.5bn lira in 1998, then worth about £1m. It had expenses of about 336bn lira (£106m) and income of about 338bn lira (£107m).
• The 2,500 officials of the Papal curia have a combined salary bill of 140bn lira (£44m).
• The 20,000 parishes in America had revenues of $7.5bn (£5.18bn) in 2000, of which $6.5bn went to cover expenses and $1bn subsidized Catholic schools.
• In the 1980s the Vatican Bank was forced to pay $241m for its part in the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano. Roberto Calvi, who had been advising the Vatican over its dealings with the bank, was found hanging from a rope beneath Blackfriars Bridge.
• Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, the man tipped to be the first American Pope, has been building a new cathedral for the past four years. The cost is now estimated at almost $200m.