As little as two hundred years ago, most of the people in the world lived in grinding poverty, bone-crushing, mind-numbing, earth-shattering poverty. At least by today's standards. Yet for almost two thousand years, those same bone-crushingly poor people built some of the most beautiful buildings the world has ever seen. They were physically poor but spiritually rich.
Today, there is no such thing as a poor person, at least not by the standards of the 1800s. Every person today is richer than ANY person was in 1800 - more physically comfortable, better medical care, better food and lodging, longer life, healthier.
Today's population are physically rich, but poor in spirit. Today, we can't design a church that looks better than the average gymnasium. Don't WANT a church that looks better than a supermarket.
And the bishops, by and large, have decided that the traditional understanding of beauty is not the way to evangelize these spiritually poor people. They believe that well-stocked supermarkets and gymnasiums will work better. So, they fund social justice instead of encouraging beauty. They won't pay for beauty, you see, because it doesn't "feed the poor."
Which is kind of ironic, given that today's poor are much less likely to be hungry or naked or homeless or ill than any previous generation of poor in the history of the world.
It's a conundrum. Back when you would expect bishops to be worried about feeding the poor, they spent decades building cathedrals. Now, when feeding the poor is something the government does, and does pretty well, actually, the bishops change their tune. Now, exactly when most people don't really need the physical assistance, the bishops stop worrying about beautiful cathedrals and start worrying about feeding the poor.
It's pretty remarkable, when you think about it.