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BOOK REVIEW by Anne Frandi-Coory

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The Crusades

A Brief History of The Crusades; Islam And Christianity In The Struggle For World Supremacy  

by Geoffrey Hindley

 

“A history of the Christian war for faith and its bitter legacy”.

Were historical religious wars in reality an extension and prolongation of tribal hatreds?  Eventually the rise of the two major religions of Islam and Christianity would convert millions into faithful followers.  Each side would massacre hundreds of thousands of ‘infidels’ in the name of their respective one true god.

Anyone who has any doubts whatsoever that either Islam or Christianity was founded on peace and respect for human life, should read this book. Arabs initiated the Jihad wars of the 7th and 8th Centuries which conquered the Christian lands from Syria to Egypt, and the North African coast from the Christian Roman Empire and the Christian Kingdoms of Spain, also the aggressive conquest of the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire.  In the Middle Ages, the Christians initiated four barbaric crusades to fight not only Islam’s followers but also other Christian groups committing heresy.  Let’s not forget that both Christians and Muslims massacred their own followers for what seems to me, the most trivial of doctrinal differences.

Once Christianity became the state religion of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, the Roman Catholic religion and politics were inextricably intertwined.  Pagans were massacred mercilessly if they didn’t convert to Christianity. It was no different for those who followed Allah. It wasn’t until the Arabs united under their own prophet in the 7th Century, did they have the power to take on the Christian infidels. Before the Arabs rampaged out of the deserts of Arabia, they had languished as disregarded and disunited pagan Arab tribes. In the words of an Arab envoy to the Shah of Persia: “Once the Arabs were a wretched race, whom you could tread underfoot at will….Now for our glory, Allah has raised up a prophet among us.”

Hindley’s book is well written, full of historical fact, and takes readers to wherever Christianity spread its tentacles: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Turkey,  Arabia, and North Africa. Kings, (particularly French) Bishops and Popes were on the forefront of the fight against infidels, and the terrible crime of heresy. During the four crusades and the Inquisition, torture was widespread and horrific. For instance, alarm bells were ringing in Rome that large numbers of heretic communities existed in the south of France, Provence and Aquitaine. In the town of Béziers alone in 1209 the entire population of 15,000 people were massacred in what was actually a frenzy of ethnic cleansing; probably no more than 700 were active Cathars.

The Maronites of Lebanon are another yet contradictory case in point. They are Christian followers of 3rd Century St Maron (St Maroun in Aramaic) who eventually came under the protection of the Roman Catholic Church around the 16th Century. However, the Roman Catholic Church had known about the small pockets of these early Christians hiding from the Muslim onslaught in the mountains of Lebanon, and in Antioch in modern Turkey, but didn’t consider them a threat. The Church expected that they would eventually be killed or die out from hunger and disease. When the Crusaders discovered them centuries later stubbornly hiding in the mountains, in caves and very poor, they were offered protection. The odd thing is that Rome allowed the Maronites to uphold certain doctrinal differences; priests could marry and Maronites held that Christ had a dual and divine human nature governed by a single divine will. Still, they had the full support and financial backing of Rome. This was even though Rome considered other Eastern Orthodox Christians’ doctrinal differences as ‘schismatic’ and a blatant insult to the supreme power of Rome and the Universal Church. But not evidently, heretical?

Excerpt concerning the end of the long and brutal campaign of the first crusade culminating in crusaders running amok in Jerusalem:

The assault was scheduled to start after dark on 13 July [1099] with two simultaneous attacks each led by one of the siege towers…It was the tower commanded by Godfrey of Bouillon on the northern sector that, on the morning of 15 July, established the first foothold. Seeing the enemy secure a bridgehead on the ramparts, the defenders in this sector streamed back to the temple area to rally for a last stand around the al-Aqsa Mosque, but they surrendered to Tancred and flew his banner over the mosque promising to pay a large ransom in the negotiations that should follow the capture. Meantime blood crazed crusaders were streaming over the walls and through the streets of the northern part of the city slaughtering every living thing that crossed their path. No banner was going to save lives in this shambles, while the Jewish population of the city were cut down – man, woman, and child – where they stood hoping for sanctuary in their chief synagogue. They can have had little hope. Months before, news of the pogroms in the Rhineland had reached the city and most of its Jewish community had sided with its Muslim defenders, fearful of their fate should the place fall to the Christians. Now that fate was upon them. …It is doubtful whether any other of the inhabitants of Jerusalem on that dreadful day survived. …The slaughter lasted the best part of two days.  When it was over, the crusade leaders went in solemn procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre  to give thanks to God… [my emphasis]

There was surely much to give thanks for. More than once over the years it had seemed that the army had survived only thanks to divine intervention. Even so some blenched at the butchery that had sealed their victory. …When reports did reach the West many churchmen expressed horrified dismay. Accounts of the shocking events reverberated through Muslim Syria.

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Copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory and All rights Reserved  16 January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Book Review by Anne Frandi-Coory

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Michelangelo And Raphael In The Vatican. (Special edition for museums and papal galleries)

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‘Michelangelo & The Pope’s Ceiling’ by Ross King…  

…is a wonderful book all artists should read if they haven’t already. But then, anyone interested in the genius of Michelangelo would love it also.

The author, Ross King, intertwines Michelangelo’s private life and his many anxieties into the long and arduous travail that was the painting of the Sistine Chapel. And amidst all of this the disputes between the painter and Pope Julius II over money  and design give an insight into how closely the Vatican kept tabs on artists and the subjects of their works.

Compared to Raphael, Michelangelo was practically a saint. He worked long hours in Rome on the Pope’s most ambitious ‘project’ while at the same time handling all his family’s many problems, financial and otherwise, back at his home in Florence.

Michelangelo believed any sort of sexual liaison was dangerous to one’s wellbeing; ‘sapping’ a person’s vitality.  It is believed Michelangelo was celibate while his competitor Raphael, and Pope Julius, both had appetites for food, wine, and sex that were legendary. In fact, Raphael died in his late 30s from ‘a night of debauchery’. The pope suffered from syphilis and malaria. Many popes from that era suffered from syphilis and many had children. During this era, Rome, with a population of around 50,000, was infamous for the thousands of prostitutes working in that city. It goes without saying that among their clients were numerous Catholic clergy.

Often a pope’s son and heir, nephew,  or other relative, followed in his footsteps as head of the Roman Catholic Church. In those days, Popes and Bishops even went to war to win back papal states in Italy seized during invasions by other powerful countries. The fact that the Church used soldiers from ‘friendly’ countries to boost their own fighting power wasn’t a problem, neither were their looting and rampaging!

Being a history buff, I also enjoyed reading about the politics and life in Italy during the 15th and 16th Centuries. This book is well researched and equally well written.

In particular, I was fascinated by the techniques Michelangelo and Raphael used to paint their frescos. This method was used  to paint walls of palaces and churches, as well as the Sistine ceiling or ‘vault’. I always believed that the artists just painted the walls as though they were canvases. Not so. The method is painstaking, and requires much skill and patience. Several ‘plasterers’ are needed to assist the painter in mixing the correct ingredients and the painter applied pigments and sketches either to wet or dry plaster, depending on the effect required.

While I was in Rome in 1992, I bought a large book full of coloured glossy reproductions of Michelangelo’s and Raphael’s works during the reign of Pope Julius. I am so glad I did because there are no coloured plates in Ross King’s book,  therefore it would have been difficult for me to follow some of his more detailed discussions. For instance, as King explains in detail the various characters Michelangelo painted onto the Sistine ceiling, I was able to study them in this amazing book. It  made King’s book even more interesting from an artist’s perspective.

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School of Athens by Raphael

The author also discusses at length, one of my favourite paintings by Raphael, ‘The School Of Athens’. This was commissioned by Pope Julius for a stanza in his new apartments. Donato Bramante, Pope Julius’ favourite architect helped Raphael paint the monumental and palatial scenes in ‘The School’. My glossy book of reproductions also has wonderful individual full coloured reproductions of the various students and ‘professors’ in ‘The School’, such as Plato and Aristotle.

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Plato and Aristotle from ‘The School of Athens’

 

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A glossy plate taken from ‘The School of Athens’ showing Euclid and his students

 

-Anne Frandi-Coory 25 November 2013

 

 

Updated 6 February 2017 – From today and over the next three weeks archbishops from every state (except Tasmania) will take the stand. 

Some statistics from the Royal Commission on first day of proceedings involving archbishops of Australia,  in just 5 Dioceses here in Australia:

Figures much worse for religious orders: 20.4% Marist Brothers, 21.9% Salesians, 22% Christian Brothers 40.4%, St John of God.

“The following five archdioceses or dioceses with priest members which had
the highest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950
to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators: 


a. 11.7% of priests from the Diocese of Wollongong were alleged
perpetrators
b. 13.9% of priests from the Diocese of Lismore were alleged
perpetrators
c. 14.1% of priests from the Diocese of Port Pirie were alleged
perpetrators
d. 14.7% of priests from the Diocese of Sandhurst were alleged
perpetrators
e. 15.1% of priests from the Diocese of Sale were alleged
perpetrators”.

The disturbing figures were revealed by senior counsel assisting, Gail Furness, SC. She also revealed that the Holy See had refused to hand over documents involving Australian priests accused of abuse.

“The royal commission hoped to gain an understanding of the action taken in each case,” Furness said. “The Holy See responded, on 1 July 2014, that it was ‘neither possible nor appropriate to provide the information requested’,” she said

“Children were ignored or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious [brothers] were moved. The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past,” she said. “Documents were not kept or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover-ups.”

Read more here: Clerical Paedophilia; Centuries-Old Timebomb

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The Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic and other religious clerics is now underway in Australia.

‘Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses Into Sexual Abuse Of Children’ will carry out its investigations throughout Australia. The Chairman at the Inquiry is Justice Peter McClellan.

Thanks to the courageous work of PM Julia Gillard’s team, the Inquiry began its work in April 2013.

On 7 May 2013 Cardinal George Pell admitted that the Catholic Church covered up hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of children. The Church did this to protect the reputation of the Church, its wealth, and its priests.  Since he made that statement, Pell has been given refuge at the Vatican so that he has not taken the stand in these proceedings, which to many victims, is a travesty of justice!

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Below is a book which is a must read for anyone interested in the proceedings of the Inquiry:

‘Hell On The Way To Heaven’ is written by Chrissie Foster, mother of two daughters who were raped by a 70+ year old Catholic Priest, Father Kevin O’Donnell. He died before justice prevailed. It’s a heartbreaking story. Chrissy Foster tells us that she was so indoctrinated by Catholic dogma she couldn’t see the signs that her daughters were at risk of sexual abuse by this paedophile. Father O’Donnell had total power over his diocese and the Catholic school the girls attended. He was free to wander among the children at any time and free to take them out of classes when he chose.

It is believed that this paedophile sexually molested and raped hundreds of boys and girls. The Catholic Church did not warn the community that there had been complaints against Kevin O’Donnell spanning 50 years.  O’Donnell was eventually defrocked by the Catholic Church but boys continued to visit him at his unit. When George Pell was informed by parishioners about O’Donnell’s continued association with children, he replied that it was no longer anything to do with the Catholic Church!

For everyone’s sake in our community, so this never happens again, please take the time to read this book.

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An Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church is long overdue in Australia.

The stress and heartbreak that the victims of sexual abuse, and their families, go through is horrendous. I do not believe that the Catholic Church even comes close to understanding this. If it did, would the Vatican have allowed this abuse to go on for centuries? Perhaps it’s not a question of understanding and empathy. It’s most likely all about power, wealth and status. I believe that the number of reported abuses is just the tip of the iceberg, because research has shown that is the tendency with all forms of sexual abuse. It can take half of a victim’s lifetime, or more, to just gain the strength to talk about the abuse. To quote Chrissie Foster: “It takes 40 or 50 years for children to talk about what has happened to them, and it just never stops”.

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For more details see: How Catholic Dogma Aided Paedophile priests

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Chrissie & Anthony Foster

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It one such case, two of Chrissie and Anthony Fosters’ daughters were raped by a Catholic Priest. In an article about the Fosters in Catholica, March 2011, the writer refers to the abuser as “A Holy Roman Catholic Priest”.  I think this is indicative of the mentality of the Catholic hierarchy, in that they choose this highly inflated title to describe a paedophile. It sends a message that this rapist continues to be treated with respect by his peers and the Vatican!

Chrissie and Anthony Foster are the parents of three daughters, two of whom were raped as little girls by a paedophile priest, Kevin O’Donnell. One of the daughters eventually took her own life in despair after a long period of self harm. The second daughter who was raped, after a similarly long period of self harm, walked in front of a speeding car while intoxicated and today requires round the clock nursing care that will continue for the rest of her life.

Mrs Foster has written a book ‘Hell on the Way to Heaven‘ in which she cites six bishops who failed to take decisive action following several parents’ complaints regarding Kevin O’Donnell. It is difficult to comprehend why Cardinal Pell is still in Office given what has been presented in Mrs Foster’s book. “Cardinal Pell has more front than Myers Department Store and it will probably wash over him like water off a duck’s back”.  Read Mrs Foster’s book and judge for yourself, the failure of these six bishops to protect children from sexual abuse by Kevin O’Donnell.  Cardinal Pell appears to bury his head in the sand over this issue, and still there has been no effective inquiry.

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The Fosters are driving the push for an inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Victoria.  As quoted in the Waverley Leader September 13, “Two signatures stand between an inquiry into the alleged sexual abuse of two Oakleigh girls, and other alleged victims by Victorian clergy”.  Labour MP, Anne Barker handed the proposed terms of reference for an inquiry to Attorney-General Robert Clark, recently. If Mr Clark and Premier Ted Baillieu, sign  the four page document, a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be launched.  The Terms of Reference state that: “Since 1993, more than 65 clergy who have served in Victoria, have been convicted of abuse”. These figures are staggering. But the Catholic hierarchy have stipulated that they will not deviate from its ‘Melbourne Response Programme’ which was implemented 15 years ago. However, going on past experience of the way the Catholic Church has protected its paedophile priests, we must have nothing less than a Royal Commission of Inquiry, which would be  totally outside the influence of the Vatican. Mr Foster believes A  Royal Commission is the only way to expose the secretive behaviour of the Church, and bring it under full scrutiny. A decision is pending. Let’s hope that in the event of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in Victoria, other states will follow suit.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 20 December 2011

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See  previous posts:  Clerical Paedophilia         /    Irish PM Blasts Vatican

updated 15 November 2013

Mercy: St Bartholomew's Day, Paris, 1572. 'Ill-fated love affair between a Catholic & a Protestant'. John Everett Millais 1829-96. This is the day thousands of Protestants were slaughtered by Catholics.

Mercy: St Bartholomew’s Day, Paris, 1572. ‘Ill-fated love affair between a Catholic & a Protestant’. John Everett Millais 1829-96. This is the day thousands of Protestants were slaughtered by Catholics.

Has Pope Benedict gone completely mad? He recently stated via a Catholic publication that politicians should behave like Joan Of Arc!   “With her deep prayer life and total devotion to serving God and the good of her fellow citizens, St. Joan of Arc is a wonderful model for Christian politicians”, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Hers is a beautiful example of holiness for lay people involved in politics, especially in difficult situations. Faith is the light that guided all her choices,” the pope said January 26 during his weekly general audience.  What a load of b…….  This is just another Church smokescreen to hide its vast problems.

Joan of Arc’s real name Jeanne d’Arc, The Maid of  Orléans, France. Clad in a white suit of armour, and carrying her own standard, Jeanne was leading an array of loyal French fighters to battle against the English, who were trying to take possession of her beloved Orléans.  Jeanne and her followers won that battle but on the way to relieve Compiégne, she was captured and sold to the English by John of Luxembourg, and they handed her over to The Catholic Holy Inquisition.  It seems to me,  Jeanne was burnt at the stake because she was leading a French army against the British. It was politics not religion, but a smokescreen was desperately needed.  Easier to torture and murder a young woman if she was found guilty of heresy and sorcery; less public sympathy.  The British didn’t want the blood of a  heroine on their historical hands.

But, and here’s the rub: Recent historical evidence has challenged the traditional account of Jeanne d’Arc. The contention is that Jeanne d’Arc has been confused with Jehanne, the illegitimate daughter of Queen Isabeau of France and Louis, duc d’Orléans, brother of the King. Now, how is Pope Benedict going to fix this problem given the Church’s teachings on the grave ‘sin’ of sex outside marriage, not to mention illegitimate births and the spectre of purgatory?

The Catholic Church ‘forgave’ Jeanne and made her a saint in 1920.  Perhaps the Church has canonised the wrong woman?  Now wouldn’t that cause ructions at the Holy See?

But let’s get back to what the Pope is actually saying in the 21st Century: “Christian politicians should not worry about doing the best for their country, but rather spend their time praying and fighting for their religion,  ie  Catholicism”.  There have been enough religious wars over millennia, and they’re still going on!

Shouldn’t the Pope and the Vatican be spending their time bringing paedophile priests to justice and helping their abused victims instead of pontificating about a brutal and savage murder committed by the Catholic hierarchy in the 15th Century?  I believe that the reason priests have been brutalising children for centuries is that they have never been brought to justice for their crimes.  Instead the Church has “forgiven them their sins” and allowed them to continue to prey on innocents.   These evil priests have been “indulged” by the Catholic Church.

Quote from The Ethical Nag’s Blog:

John Swales was only 10 years old back in 1969 when he and later his two younger brothers as well were first assaulted by

Father Barry Glendinning at a summer camp for low-income kids in Ontario. He told Maclean’s magazine in its December 7, 2009 issue:

“The real failing here is the institutional response to these deviants. Every culture, every occupation, has these issues of sexual abuse. But few have the ability to conceal sexual abuse of children like the Catholic church does.”

In Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution. The belief is that indulgences draw “House of Merit” accumulated by Christ’s  superabundantly meritorious sacrifice on the cross (what?!) and the virtues and penance of the saints. They are granted for specific good works, prayers,  and what the Church will not openly admit, money.  Lots of it.  We all know many priests come from wealthy Catholic families.  No wonder deviant priests re-offend time and again!

Indulgences replaced the severe penances of the early Church. More exactly, they replaced the shortening of those penances that was allowed at the intercession of those imprisoned and those awaiting martyrdom for the faith.

Abuses in selling and granting indulgences were a major point of contention when Martin Luther  initiated the Protestant Reformation. (1517).

 

At last the Vatican’s centuries of corruption and hypocrisy have caught up with it.   I guess that the Catholic Church has millions of  sexual abuse compensation claims outstanding and this close scrutiny of its bank could not have come at a worse time for it.

See my previous  posts:

Islam, Christianity & The Vatican Library

Vatican Bank or Office of Religious Works

Sexual Abuse;  The Pope & The Vatican


ARTICLE BELOW – Source:

VICTOR L. SIMPSON and NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press


VATICAN CITY – This is no ordinary bank: The ATMs are in Latin. Priests use a private entrance. A life-size portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs on the wall.   Nevertheless, the Institute for Religious Works is a bank, and it’s under harsh new scrutiny in a case involving money-laundering allegations that led police to seize euro23 million ($30 million) in Vatican assets in September. Critics say the case shows that the “Vatican Bank” has never shed its penchant for secrecy and scandal.

The Vatican calls the seizure of assets a “misunderstanding” and expresses optimism it will be quickly cleared up. But court documents show that prosecutors say the Vatican Bank deliberately flouted anti-laundering laws “with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital.” The documents also reveal investigators’ suspicions that clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and Mafia.  The documents pinpoint two transactions that have not been reported: one in 2009 involving the use of a false name, and another in 2010 in which the Vatican Bank withdrew euro650,000 ($860 million) from an Italian bank account but ignored bank requests to disclose where the money was headed.

The new allegations of financial impropriety could not come at a worse time for the Vatican, already hit by revelations that it sheltered paedophile priests. The corruption probe has given new hope to Holocaust survivors who tried unsuccessfully to sue in the United States, alleging that Nazi loot was stored in the Vatican Bank. Yet the scandal is hardly the first for the centuries-old bank. In 1986, a Vatican financial adviser died after drinking cyanide-laced coffee in prison. Another was found dangling from a rope under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982, his pockets stuffed with money and stones. The incidents blackened the bank’s reputation, raised suspicions of ties with the Mafia, and cost the Vatican hundreds of millions of dollars in legal clashes with Italian authorities.

On Sept. 21, financial police seized assets from a Vatican Bank account at the Rome branch of Credito Artigiano SpA. Investigators said the Vatican had failed to furnish information on the origin or destination of the funds as required by Italian law.  The bulk of the money, euro20 million ($26 million), was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to Banca del Fucino. Prosecutors alleged the Vatican ignored regulations that foreign banks must communicate to Italian financial authorities where their money has come from. All banks have declined to comment.

In another case, financial police in Sicily said in late October that they uncovered money laundering involving the use of a Vatican Bank account by a priest in Rome whose uncle was convicted of Mafia association.  Authorities say some euro250,000 euros, illegally obtained from the regional government of Sicily for a fish breeding company, was sent to the priest by his father as a “charitable donation,” then sent back to Sicily from a Vatican Bank account using a series of home banking operations to make it difficult to trace.

“I don’t trust them,” he said. “After the previous big scandals, they [The Vatican] said ‘we’ll change’ and they didn’t. It’s happened too many times.”   He said the structure and culture of the institution is such that powerful account-holders can exert pressure on management, and some managers are simply resistant to change.   The list of account-holders is secret, though bank officials say there are some 40,000-45,000 among religious congregations, clergy, Vatican officials and lay people with Vatican connections.

The bank chairman is Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, also chairman of Banco Santander’s Italian operations, who was brought in last year to bring the Vatican Bank in line with Italian and international regulations. Gotti Tedeschi has been on a very public speaking tour extolling the benefits of a morality-based financial system.  “He went to sell the new image … not knowing that inside, the same things were still happening,” Nuzzi said. “They continued to do these transfers without the names, not necessarily in bad faith, but out of habit.”  It doesn’t help that Gotti Tedeschi himself and the bank’s No. 2 official, Paolo Cipriani, are under investigation for alleged violations of money-laundering laws. They were both questioned by Rome prosecutors on Sept. 30, although no charges have been filed.  In his testimony, Gotti Tedeschi said he knew next to nothing about the bank’s day-to-day operations, noting that he had been on the job less than a year and only works at the bank two full days a week.

As the Vatican proclaims its innocence, the courts are holding firm. An Italian court has rejected a Vatican appeal to lift the order to seize assets.  The Vatican Bank was founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII to manage assets destined for religious or charitable works. The bank, located in the tower of Niccolo V, is not open to the public, but people who use it described the layout to the AP.  Top prelates have a special entrance manned by security guards. There are about 100 staffers, 10 bank windows, a basement vault for safe deposit boxes, and ATMs that open in Latin but can be accessed in modern languages. In another concession to modern times, the bank recently began issuing credit cards.   In the scandals two decades ago, Sicilian financier Michele Sindona was appointed by the pope to manage the Vatican’s foreign investments. He also brought in Roberto Calvi, a Catholic banker in northern Italy.

Sindona’s banking empire collapsed in the mid-1970s and his links to the mob were exposed, sending him to prison and his eventual death from poisoned coffee. Calvi then inherited his role.  Calvi headed the Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed in 1982 after the disappearance of $1.3 billion in loans made to dummy companies in Latin America. The Vatican had provided letters of credit for the loans.  Calvi was found a short time later hanging from scaffolding on Blackfriars Bridge, his pockets loaded with 11 pounds of bricks and $11,700 in various currencies. After an initial ruling of suicide, murder charges were filed against five people, including a major Mafia figure, but all were acquitted after trial.   While denying wrongdoing, the Vatican Bank paid $250 million to Ambrosiano’s creditors.

Both the Calvi and Sindona cases remain unsolved.

See  JP Morgan Closes Its Branch At The Vatican

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Pope Benedict & his cardinals

By Nick Squires in Rome and John Bingham 5:46PM GMT 21 Nov 2010 –
(My Comments)

In a book to be published this week, Benedict XVI said there could be “justified individual cases” in which condoms could be used, softening Rome’s blanket ban on contraception, one of the most controversial issues facing the Church.

“In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality,” the head of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics said, giving as an example a male prostitute having sex with a client.

I wonder about a female prostitute who has aids or any other STD!

But he gave no guidance on the long-standing moral and religious question of whether it would be permissible for a married couple, in which one partner is HIV positive, to use condoms in order to prevent the other partner from becoming infected.  Just more confusion.

While the Pope restates Catholicism’s objections to contraception and stresses its emphasis on abstinence as the best policy to fight Aids, he says that using a condom could be a responsible act if it is intended to prevent the spread of the virus.   What about the spread of unwanted children with no chance for a decent life?

The pontiff’s comments are made in a book to be published by the Vatican this week, which has been the subject of increasing anticipation.   The publicists were not exaggerating when they sent out an email last week saying the Pope delivers “answers that will surprise and impress both critics and his fans”.

“Benedict XVI has shown himself time and again to be the ‘Pope of surprises’,” it said. After decades of staunch opposition from the Catholic Church to the use of condoms, his comments are likely to cause astonishment.

Not only does it represent a hugely significant shift in the Church’s teaching, but the softening in its position is coming from a Pope who took office with a reputation for being hardline and fundamentalist.  Perceived as the Vatican’s enforcer after heading its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition, he is challenging this image by showing himself willing to embrace change.

The Pope’s reluctant support for condom use in certain circumstances is likely to dismay the most conservative Catholics who believe it is impossible to distinguish the use of condoms as contraceptives and their use as preventers of the transmission of Aids.

Yet it reflects a growing consensus amongst theologians that the stance now adopted by the Pope can be morally justified.

Cardinals, such as Godfried Danneels and Lozano Barragan, have argued that it must be better for an infected man to use a condom if the intention is not to avoid life but to prevent death.      But what if a man is using a condom for both reasons?  Will he go to hell?

Earlier this year, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, indicated he was sympathetic to a more tolerant approach to condom use, saying he could see “why, in the short term, [the] means that give women protection are attractive”.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, his predecessor, was told by Pope Benedict XVI – who was then Cardinal Ratzinger – that the Church needed to reach an agreed position on the morality of the use of condoms.  How pathetic!  when we consider all the really significant  problems the world has to deal with at  present; rampant paedophilia,  terrorism, brutal wars, aids, dying children etc etc.

Although they acknowledged that there was a need to clarify the Church’s teaching on the use of condoms, cardinals and senior figures in Rome were ultimately too concerned that it was impossible to do so without being misinterpreted.

These concerns appeared to be well founded after Pope Benedict was fiercely criticised for his comments in Africa, which were effectively no more than repeating a well-established Church view that condoms are not the solution to Aids.   Forget about the solution to Aids – what about the reality of  children infected with Aids suffering and dying in their millions?

Rather than promulgate an edict he has chosen to do it in an interview with Peter Seewald, a German journalist whom he trusts and knows well from his time as Cardinal Ratzinger.  Speaking at the Frankfurt Book Fair earlier this year, Mr Seewald said: “The events in the news around the abuse scandals and the wider situation of the Church naturally give this conversation an incredible explosiveness and I can only reveal to you now that you are expecting a very exciting, very extensive book.”

While the Pope tackles many controversial subjects in the book, from the sex abuse crisis to the Church’s teaching on clerical celibacy, his comments on condoms are likely to cause the greatest shock.  They may not go far enough to appease Catholics such as Cherie Blair, who argue for a total acceptance of contraception.

His stance will help to distance the Church from some of its more embarrassing statements, such as the claim by a cardinal that the HIV  virus can pass through tiny holes in the rubber of condoms.   What on earth can these cloistered, brain washed men,  possibly know about pregnancy, giving birth and the hardships of  life in the real world!   And then there is the hypocrisy;  The Catholic Church has financial interests in the manufacturing of contraceptives through the all-powerful Vatican Empire.

Crucially, it may go further in ensuring the Church’s relevance in public debate, presenting it as more humane and more flexible – even at the risk of people thinking the Church has changed its mind on the issue. This desire to secure the Church’s place in the public square is at the heart of Pope Benedict’s thinking and no doubt the guiding reason behind such a brave move.

What does he mean by these statements? …….”I was, naturally, not always simply against things, exclusively and as a matter of principle” ……………….. “Ultimately someone who is in opposition could probably not endure life at all”, quotes the Pope in the book.

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