How the Vatican sold its soul
By Philip Willan | guardian.co.uk
A new book by the journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi lays bare a history of political bribes being paid through the Vatican's central bank
The Vatican appears to have an enduring vocation for Italian political and financial scandal. Secrecy and intrigue were the order of the day when American archbishop Paul Marcinkus held sway in the Bastion of Nicholas V, the medieval tower housing the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican's central bank.
The requirements of a clandestine global struggle against atheist communism may explain the choice of business partners such as Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi, whose mafia links and ruinous bankruptcies brought lasting discredit on the Catholic church three decades ago.
The Vatican hoped that a goodwill payment of $240m to the creditors of Calvi's Banco Ambrosiano's would salve its conscience and erase the memory of Marcinkus's inept and dishonest banking practices. We were led to believe that a new broom, wielded by the lay banker Angelo Caloia, had since swept the premises of the IOR.
The process of reform has been slower and more painful than previously thought, however, to judge by a new book, Vaticano Spa ("Vatican Ltd"), by the journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi. According to Nuzzi, despite the best efforts of Caloia, a cavalier attitude to financial ethics appears to have continued well into the 1990s, with huge political bribes being laundered through the IOR and funds donated for charitable purposes or to pay for masses for the souls of the dead being casually misappropriated by the bank's administrators.
Nuzzi's allegations are based on internal IOR documents, more than 4,000 in all, that were smuggled out of the Vatican by a disgruntled employee. This unique violation of IOR confidentiality was made possible by an unlikely whistleblower, Monsignor Renato Dardozzi. An electronic engineer who held a top job at the state telecommunications company, Dardozzi discovered his vocation late in life and was ordained a priest at the age of 52.
He worked in the IOR under Marcinkus, participated in the joint Vatican/Italian commission that examined the IOR's role in the Ambrosiano saga, and witnessed Caloia's uphill struggle against the personnel and practices of the Marcinkus era.
Monsignor Donato De Bonis, who served as secretary general under Marcinkus, continued to work under the new regime.
In 1987, according to Nuzzi, De Bonis set up the Cardinal Francis Spellman Foundation, with its own account at the IOR. Signatories on the account included De Bonis himself. During its first six years of operation the account received some 50bn lire (Ł22m) and paid out 43bn.
The choice of the staunchly anti-communist Spellman as "patron" of the fund is interesting. The well-connected cardinal of New York earned the sobriquet "money-bags" for his fund-raising skills and earmarked significant sums for Italy's Christian Democrat party during the cold war years.
The Spellman fund seems to have been administered by De Bonis with promiscuous generosity. A variety of convents and clerics were to benefit, with payments ranging from the modest 1m lire paid to five mother superiors, to the $50,000 sent to the auxiliary bishop of Skopje-Prizen, for the Albanian-speaking faithful, and the $1m delivered to Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, the archbishop of Sao Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.
There were also payments of a more personal nature: 100m lire for one of the lawyers of Giulio Andreotti, the veteran Christian Democrat politician, $134,000 for a conference on Cicero in New York sponsored by the former prime minister, and even a 60m lire payment to Severino Citaristi, a former treasurer of the Christian Democrat party convicted on corruption charges.
Part of the massive Enimont bribe, paid to politicians to secure their approval for a reorganisation of the chemicals sector, was also bounced through the Spellman fund, according to Nuzzi. But Caloia and Dardozzi chose discretion over transparency when questioned about it by prosecutors from Milan. "Despite the full collaboration promised and publicised in the press, they limit themselves to referring only what can no longer be concealed," Nuzzi writes.
It is interesting to note that Dardozzi's motive for turning whistleblower was not unalloyed disapproval of the IOR's unethical conduct. His decision to smuggle his secret archive out of the Vatican was motivated, at least in part, by anger at the institute's refusal to pay him a commission on the sale of a valuable real estate property near Florence. The unusual monsignor wanted to leave the money to his adoptive daughter, whose health condition required expensive hospital treatment.
Whatever the reason, Dardozzi's archive offers an unprecedented glimpse of the inner workings of one of the world's most secretive and unaccountable financial institutions. The idea that a noble end – winning the cold war or funding one's favourite charity – justifies almost any means, still seems to endure at the pope's bank in the Nicholas V Tower.
Philip Willan is the author of The Last Supper: The mafia, the Masons and the Killing of Roberto Calvi. His website is www.philipwillan.com
Why was 'God's banker' killed?
"My God - they killed him!"
What You Didn't Know About The Popes Of Rome
Red Ice Radio - Eric Phelps - Vatican Assassins
Red Ice Radio - Eric Jon Phelps - The Vatican Behind the Creation of Islam
Vatican paper set to clear Knights Templar
Tied up in the Rat Lines
The Rothschilds and their "Nazi" Pope
On Top Of Mount Zion, All Coveted By Rome
The Road From Rome
Latest News from our Front Page
60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia
Does the consumption of gluten-containing grains contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia?
Believe it or not, this question has been asked for well over 60 years by researchers who stumbled upon evidence that the removal of gluten from the diet results in improved symptoms, or conversely, that gluten grain consumption leads to higher prevalence of both neurological and psychiatric problems.
A Sour Deception: Citric Acid Comes From GMO Black Mold, Not Fruit
Just what is your food made of, anyway? Try industrial synthesis, genetically modified mold secretions, hydrochloric acid, mercury-contaminated caustic soda, ferrocyanideâ€¦ and, of course, lots of GMO corn.
If common ingredients like â€ścitric acidâ€ť and â€śascorbic acid (Vitamin C)â€ť sound normal and familiar enough that you practically conjure up an image of the flourishing orchard they were grown in â€“ then ...
Thousands of migrants dumped on Britain as French wriggle out of border promise
Thousands of migrants could be dumped on Britainâ€™s doorstep if France tears up a historic border agreement, it was claimed last night.
Officials have vowed to do â€śeverything in their powerâ€ť to wriggle out of a treaty moving the UK border to Calais.
The besieged townâ€™s mayor Natacha Bouchart is prepared to spark a major diplomatic row by opening the frontier ...
Richard III laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral
King Richard III was today laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral - more than 500 years after his death in battle.
The monarch, who reigned from 1483 to 1485, was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem by Carol Ann Duffy during the service. Also in attendance was Robert Lindsay, who played Richard III in a version ...
Sweden - A new paradise for Romani beggars
Thanks to the European Union and freedom of movement that follows with membership Sweden has been flooded with gypsies from Eastern Europe.
Most member states have cracked down hard on the phenomenon of organized begging with legislation and forceful evictions so the Romani (colloquially known as Gypsies) who are engaged in this venture have moved their business to the country where ...
|More News » |