ONCE upon a time in Italy there was man comfortably ensconced in the Vatican who, as Pope, penned an encyclical called Quadragesimo Anno, which slammed the capitalistic greed of international finance.
This fella, Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, better known as Pope Pius XI, was also aware that the Catholic Church was strapped for cash, so he came up with a cunning stunt that would give the Vatican independence as a micro-state, and allow it an array of privileges, including having a hand in Italian education.
Via the Lateran Treaty of 1929, Ratti officially recognised Mussolini’s fascist regime, and at the same time relieved the dictator of a large chunk of cash.
Mussolini’s money, later to be stashed away secretly in offshore tax havens, has grown into a nice little nest egg which has been used to create a £500m international property portfolio, featuring real estate in UK, France and Switzerland.
In 2006, according to the Guardian, the Vatican spent £15m of those funds to buy commercial properties in London and Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.
The Guardian said:
The surprising aspect for some will be the lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions.
The Mussolini money was dramatically important to the Vatican’s finances. John Pollard, a Cambridge historian, wote in Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy:
The papacy was now financially secure. It would never be poor again.
The Guardian added:
While secrecy about the Fascist origins of the papacy’s wealth might have been understandable in wartime, what is less clear is why the Vatican subsequently continued to maintain secrecy about its holdings in Britain, even after its financial structure was reorganised in 1999.
The Guardian asked the Vatican’s representative in London, the papal nuncio, archbishop Antonio Mennini, why the papacy continued with such secrecy over the identity of its property investments in London.
We also asked what the Pope spent the income on. True to its tradition of silence on the subject, the Roman Catholic church’s spokesman said that the nuncio had no comment.
Meanwhile the LA Times reported that Archbishop Roger M Mahony and a top advisor plotted to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement, including keeping them out of California to avoid prosecution
The archdiocese’s failure to purge paedophile clergy and reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement has previously been known. But memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Msgr Thomas J Curry, then the archdiocese’s chief advisor on sex abuse cases, offer the strongest evidence yet of a concerted effort by officials in the nation’s largest Catholic diocese to shield abusers from police, the paper reported.
Newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, reveal in Church leaders’ own words a desire to keep authorities from discovering that children were being molested.
In the confidential letters, filed this month as evidence in a civil court case, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent them from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators.
Mahony, who retired in 2011, has apologised repeatedly for errors in handling abuse allegations. In a statement Monday, he apologised once again and recounted meetings he’s had with about 90 victims of abuse. He said:
I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my small chapel. I pray for them every single day. As I thumb through those cards I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that accompanies that life story.
It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward with ever greater healing. I am sorry.
Hat tip: John C (Guardian report) and Marky Mark and BarrieJohn