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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

 

 

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Update: May 2015 …Pope Benedict has since been stood down, and Pope Francis has been elected. Time will tell if anything will change. 

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Pope Benedict XVI’s letter relating to the Cloyne Report has infuriated Ireland’s Prime Minister and the Irish victims of paedophile priests.  People from several countries have been hoping for constructive comments in the letter from the Vatican regarding sex abuse scandals, but they will once again be disappointed. ><

Pope Benedict XVI

>< Vatican-approved cover-ups of the sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests, have been going on for centuries in parishes and schools.  My own great-grandmother, then 14 years old, was raped by a Catholic priest in Rome in the 19th Century.  She was sent off to London to have the resultant baby while the priest’s name was protected. I’d hate to imagine how many other girls might have suffered the same fate because the Vatican turned a blind eye.   The Vatican has never put children’s welfare first in these horrendous scandals.  Foremost in the Vatican’s responses to thousands of allegations of abuse, is to protect the Catholic Church at all costs, then the abusing priests.  Some see the present Pope’s position as difficult because he was formerly the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Once The Holy Office of the Holy Inquisition), which makes, and enforces, doctrinal laws. See previous post:  The Case of the Pope; From a legal perspective.

>< It is sickening to me, to see and hear the pope expressing love for ‘God’s children’ while allowing their  torture and rape to continue.  I use the word ‘allowing’ deliberately, because that is what the present Pope is doing, and what his predecessors have done;  the Vatican’s secrecy and  inaction have ensured the abuse continues.  The scandals that first emerged in Canada and Australia in the 1980s, followed by Ireland in the 1990s, the United States this decade and, in recent months, Benedict’s German homeland, are but the tip of the iceberg.  And no-one has even begun to examine accusations coming out of Africa where many paedophile priests are sent for their protection from Western countries’ legal systems.

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Comments regarding the Pope’s letter and the Cloyne Report: Maeve Lewis, head of  ONE IN FOUR victims’ group, stated that the Pope “passed up a glorious opportunity to address the core issue in the scandal; the deliberate policy of the Catholic Church, at the highest levels, to protect sex offenders, thereby endangering children”. “The Pope speaks only of failures in the Irish church and neglects the role of the Vatican. If the church cannot acknowledge this fundamental truth, it is still in denial”.  She said she was “astounded” at the Pope’s previous assertion that  ‘the roots of clerical sexual abuse lie in the secularization of Irish society, the falling off of religious devotion, and failures to adhere to canon law.’

“This shows a complete misunderstanding of the dynamics of sexual violence and creates little hope that the church will ever respond effectively to the problem.” Author and survivor Andrew Madden said issues highlighted by him and others in a letter to the Pope had been ignored.  He said there had been no responsibility taken by the Catholic Church, regarding the sexual abuse of so many children, and its protection  of paedophile priests.   Mr Madden  goes on to say that Pope Benedict has repeated his apology for the hurt caused to those abused but then states that the Church’s only  role has been its failure to deal with criminal and sinful acts’.  According to Mr Madden, the Catholic Church didn’t fail to act; it acted very clearly to protect itself and left the abused children to fend for themselves. Another survivor, Marie Collins said she welcomed the order that church leaders should co-operate with police, but she said there had been no mention of the Vatican’s role in the cover-ups which allowed the abuse to continue.  [In fact it is not an ‘order’ but a ‘guideline’].

Alan Shatter, Justice Minister in the Irish parliament also lashed out at the Pope, saying:  “We should never again tolerate a foreign state issuing directives to members of the hierarchy and other clerics in this state to violate Irish law by concealing reports of child sexual abuse and not reporting such allegations. Nor should we ever again tolerate a foreign state requiring that an oath of any nature be taken by an adult or child to maintain a veil of secrecy over incidents of sexual abuse.” The latter was a reference to a case involving current Cardinal Sean Brady, who in 1975 swore two young children to an oath not to reveal their abuse. The Cloyne report into Catholic clerical child abuse in Ireland released on Wednesday 20th July, will identify 19 Catholic priests who allegedly sexually assaulted children in the 1990s.

The report into abuse allegations in the Catholic diocese of Cloyne, has been approved for publication by the Irish government. The report, known officially as the Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, will be published by Ireland’s minister for justice, Alan Shatter, and the minister for children, Frances Fitzgerald. The last Irish government agreed to extend the Murphy commission’s remit to include Cloyne, as well as the Dublin archdiocese. The commission’s Dublin report found widespread clerical abuse and cover-up in the Irish capital which was devastating for the Catholic Church. It also found child protection practices in the Dublin diocese to be ‘inadequate and in some respects dangerous’. The commission was later asked to investigate the handling of sex abuse allegations in Cloyne by church and state authorities between 1 January 1996 – when the church’s first-published guidelines, its Framework Document, came into play – and 1 February 2009. Minister Alan Shatter said the report’s findings were unambiguous. “We cannot correct past wrongs perpetrated on our children, but we can take action to prevent, insofar as is possible, the wrongs of the past being perpetrated on our children in the future,” he said.  “We cannot depend on the undertakings of others to correct failings and introduce robust and effective structures of protection. The Cloyne Report  irrefutably confirms that some who, in the past, gave such undertakings, acted in bad faith,” the Minister told Parliament.

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Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has launched an unprecedented attack on the Catholic Church,  saying the relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again following the Cloyne report. The Vatican chose to focus on the interests of the Church rather than the children abused by its clergy and shielded by its leaders. The Catholic News Service reports Mr Kenny accused the Vatican of adopting a “calculated, withering position” on abuse.   He said that “the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required; deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities herewith, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the state’s authorities.”

“The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture. It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order. Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic . . . as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . the narcissism . . . that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

PM Kenny said the Cloyne report told “a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children”. He said although the report had shown the need for the Vatican “to get its house in order”, it also revealed how the State had failed victims too.  “For too long Ireland has neglected its children,” he said.  “This is not Rome. This is the Republic of Ireland 2011, a republic of laws,” Mr Kenny said.

The Prime Minister was speaking during a Government motion on the report that “deplores the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of the child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish State and the Irish bishops”. It expresses “dismay at the disturbing findings of the report and at the inadequate and inappropriate response, particularly of the Church authorities in Cloyne, to complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse.” >< Italy, another predominantly Catholic country, has a similar tale to tell.

See Post:  Paedophilia in Italy

Most recent post: 

Clerical Paedophilia; Centuries Old Time Bomb

The Vatican has advised bishops around the world  of the importance of co-operating with police if complaints have been laid about specific priests raping and molesting children. Bishops were asked to develop guidelines for preventing sex abuse by May 2012.

How can Bishops prevent sex abuse by following ‘guidelines’ unless the priest under suspicion is reported to police immediately and is barred from performing official duties while under investigation?  Neither of these necessary actions have been insisted on by the Vatican.

The communique from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly Office of the Holy Inquisition) made no provision to ensure the bishops actually follow any guidelines, and victims groups immediately denounced the recommendations as “dangerously flawed” because they stress the exclusive authority of bishops to determine the credibility of abuse allegations.  And we all know where that has led.  It seems that this is another release from the Pope to lull the faithful into a false sense of security regarding their children in the hands of priests, while nothing has changed!

“There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year,” said Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the main U.S. victims group Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests.

The sexual abuse of children continues:

The communique is being issued at a time when the sex abuse guidelines of the U.S. bishops have been put into question after a Philadelphia grand jury earlier this year indicted a high-ranking church official on child endangerment charges for allegedly transferring predator priests. Four co-defendants — two priests, an ex-priest and a former Catholic school teacher — are charged with raping children.

The grand jury found “substantial evidence of abuse” committed by at least 37 other priests who remained in active ministry at the time of the report. Philadelphia’s archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, initially insisted that no archdiocesan priests in ministry had an “admitted or established allegation” against them. But he later suspended two dozen of the 37 priests. The archdiocese says many of the 37 were accused not of actual molestation but of so-called “boundary issues,” including inappropriate touching or sharing porn with minors — the latter a canonical crime in and of itself.  These are mere “boundary issues”??

How about this for a pathetic excuse: It was explained by a spokesman that the Vatican didn’t make reporting abuse cases to police mandatory because different countries have different laws which bishops must abide by. The Vatican states such a binding  rule would be problematic for priests working in countries with repressive regimes.  Who would the leaders of repressive regimes be more harmful to, the abusive priests or the abused children?

If this is the Vatican’s idea of a ‘transparency drive’, perhaps the Vatican hierarchy needs to look up the meaning of transparency in the dictionary, that’s if they possess one.  The newly published guidelines also outline the different ways that abusive priests can be disciplined by the church’s internal courts [my emphasis]. In “very grave cases”, (aren’t they all grave?) the pope may issue a decree dismissing a priest from the clerical state.   You mean the ‘E’ word?  But this has never yet happened, has it?

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The Vatican Speaks

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The following statement has to be the most idiotic the Vatican has ever released in relation to paedophile priests:

The pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone risked new controversy by claiming that paedophilia was linked to homosexuality. “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia,” he told a news conference in Santiago.   Can we please have the names of these many psychiatric experts, and are they all Catholic?  What about the thousands of ‘celibate’ priests who have raped hundreds of thousands of girls and boys?  Still more questions than answers.

Perhaps The Church’s fantastical teachings has made it easy for priests to delude themselves into believing that they weren’t really having sex with their victims.  It was women, those evil temptresses they had to avoid, as I write in  Catholic Dichotomy of Females.  I cannot believe that the problem is solely down to paedophilia or homosexuality.  It is much more psychologically complicated than that.

More…Vatican, Is It The Gay Men’s Club?

&   Celibacy and Sexual Abuse

&    Paedophilia In Italy

&    Kiss Of Betrayal

GARIBALDI  

by Jasper Ridley – A Book Review

Updated 6 December 2013

My  great grandfather, Aristodemo Giovanni Frandi, fought in Garibaldi’s ‘army’ and eventually emigrated to New Zealand in 1875. Many were the tales he told his family about the betrayals of the Catholic Church, of its priests and nuns, who informed on Garibaldi’s fighters time and again. Read more about Aristodemo and Annunziata Frandi

 

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The Catholic Church has the audacity to say that  Catholics made a fundamental contribution to creating a united Italy and a national identity, in a message marking the country’s 150th birthday.  Pope Benedict XVl has in the past stated that Christianity helped forge a national identity that resisted political fragmentation on the Italian peninsula,  and foreign domination.  He stated that the Church’s contribution came through education, literature and the arts in general, listing such personalities as Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini, whose works were often commissioned for religious purposes.  Is the pope trying to publicise a dwindling Christianity in this age of free thinking and science?

Benedict obviously lives in a religious fantasy world.  Artists were stymied and never allowed to paint what they pleased in case it offended the Catholic Church.  Many artists lived a life of subsistence because of this and it is well documented how the Catholic clergy, including extremely wealthy popes and cardinals,  enforced their sexual proclivities on young artists.  The 19th Century Pope did all he could to quash any attempts at the unification of Italy.  It would mean that the papal states would shrink to the City of Rome and finally to Vatican City.  Giusseppe Garibaldi led the Risorgimento;  he and his followers hated the Catholic Church (Papal Rome) because so often they were betrayed by nuns, priests and cardinals.  It was Garibaldi and those politicians who supported his quest for unification, who finally forced Austria, papal sycophants, and France, out of Italy.  Garibaldi’s heartbreak was that Nice, his birthplace,  was ceded to France in 1861 by politicians, as part of the deal that they leave the peninsula.

It is such a joke that Pope Benedict could come out and say it was through Catholic education and literature that Italy was united.  The truth is, only ‘the list’ of books approved by the Church were available for the general populace to read.  Most literature that made its way to Italy was burned or hidden in heavily fortified libraries only accessible to Monks and Cardinals.  See previous post Vatican Library.   As for resisting political fragmentation; the only reason they exiled or brutalised any political opposition was because the Church did not want to lose the corrupted power base they possessed.   The Church was fully funded and supported by the Spanish, French and Austrians.

If any group can be held responsible for seeding the Risorgimento (resurgence) it was the people of Italy themselves; mostly peasant farmers, some elitists, and mercenaries who had fought with Garibaldi in South America.  Peasant farmers, led by Garibaldi, almost single-handedly drove foreign power out of Sicily, and this was the catalyst that began the unstoppable unification of the peninsula.  The Roman Catholic Church opposed unification simply because it would mean the end of the vice grip they held over Italy.  Read Garibaldi by Jasper Ridley, it is very enlightening and I would hazard a guess that it is not one of the Vatican’s favourite books.

– Anne Frandi-Coory 6 December 2013


See post:  Terroni by Pino Aprile    “All that has been done to ensure that the Italians of the South become ‘Southerners’…

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The cover of Panorama: “The Wild Nights Of Gay Priests”.

Is it any wonder that the Vatican, in light of its failure to immediately report sexual abuse by Catholic clergy to criminal investigators, is known as ‘The Gay Men’s Club’?
Apparently, Cardinal Sean O’Malley has a list of suspected paedophile priests in Boston which he refuses to release. The unreleased list, possibly 40 names of  offending priests, is included in a record of the minutes from a March 2010 meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.How can the Vatican  therefore, allow these men to continue working around vulnerable children in  positions of trust?   It also means these men are not receiving help for their predilections.

Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop-Accountability.org called the number of undisclosed priests “staggering.” She accused O’Malley of purposely delaying to protect church officials responsible for monitoring the priests.  And also, if past actions by Bishops are anything to go by, so the accused can be sent on safely to another parish in Africa somewhere.  The church has said compiling the list is a complex task. It cited concerns about due process for accused priests.  What I would like to know is:  what about the children?

Many gay priests have been exposed by Panorama magazine frequenting gay clubs and actually having sex with gay partners.  Being gay is not the issue here.  It is the hypocrisy of supposed men of God, claiming they are celibate.  If there is so much opportunity around for gay sex, one has to wonder why these men have joined the priesthood.  It may be that the Catholic religion allows them to believe that if they are not having sex with women, then they are not having sex.  Perhaps it is as simple or as psychologically complex as that.

Panorama magazine is owned by Catholic Prime Minister and media baron, Silvio Berlusconi.  Its reporters have film of priests attending gay clubs and having gay sex.  One of the priests  is later filmed saying Mass!  http://italia.panorama.it/Le-notti-brave-dei-preti-gay  – can be translated into English via Google

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See previous posts:

Celibacy and Sexual Abuse

Last Judgment and Babies

Paedophilia in Italy

Kiss of Betrayal

One of the damned being dragged to the fires of hell by demons – Part of Last Judgment hanging in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican

 

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Pope Francis is now the Pope and leader of the Catholic Church. Still, nothing has changed!

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World News: VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI baptized 21 newborns in an intimate ceremony in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday that marked the end of the Christmas season.

Standing under Michelangelo’s magnificent “Last Judgment” fresco, the pope poured water on the foreheads of 13 baby boys and eight baby girls. Some babies screamed, others squirmed, some slept through it. Benedict prayed for their “life and health so they can grow and mature in the faith.”

Or perhaps to be molested by paedophile priests.   Until the pope and the Vatican hierarchy make changes within Catholicism, nothing will change! Call me a cynic, but years of being brainwashed with stories of hell-fire and brimstone as a child, have made me so. The nightmares a large part of my childhood. (Whatever Happened To Ishtar?) The Last Judgment fresco is an amazing artistic achievement by Michelangelo, I have seen it for myself in person.  But the scene which covers most of a wall in the Sistine Chapel is horrifying, and is what is promised for our innocent children if we do not baptise them in the ‘Faith’. What he is really saying is: get them young, so they can grow up indoctrinated in the ‘Faith’ and the money will continue to roll in and continue to  enrich the Vatican.

‘The Pope was quoted as saying  that, in an ever-changing society without firm cultural references, it has become more difficult to educate children in the faith, and urged parishes and parents to cooperate. The babies — aged between four weeks and four months — are all children of Vatican employees.’

What a contrast in the two images, but an accurate portrayal. The fact is that not all in Catholicism is light & happiness, that is the problem.  There are too many dark, dark depths that have not been dealt with satisfactorily by the Pope and the Vatican power brokers, and until that is done, they should not be allowed near children.  Anyway, that’ s my opinion.

 

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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