Category Archives: Religion & Spirituality

900th anniversary exhibition on the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Exhibition_Order_of_St_John

gozonews.com | Jun 6, 2013

The Minister for Education, Evarist Bartolo, will on Friday morning, be officially inaugurating the exhibition ‘TUITIO FIDEI ET OBSEQUIUM PAUPERUM – the Sovereign Military Order of Malta 1113-2013,’ that has been mounted by the National Library of Malta, under the auspices of Malta Libraries, to commemorate the 900th anniversary from the foundation of the Order of St John.

The exhibition, which will be opened at 10.00am, will showcase a number of manuscripts taken from the Order’s Archives, some of which date back to just under a thousand years. The exhibition will shed light on the three phases of the Order – the epoch prior to the Knights’ arrival on the Maltese Islands, their time here, and the period after their departure, coming up to the present day. Some items of clothing directly relating to the Order will also form part of the exhibition.

To commemorate this anniversary, the National Library of Malta will also be launching two new publications.

The first of these will be a booklet relating to the Archives of the Order, in both Maltese and English, which will provide information on the Archives from its origin to the present day. It should be noted that the greater part of this Archive is in fact preserved at the National Library.

The other publication, also in Maltese and English, will offer photographs and informational snippets about each of the 28 Grand Masters who ruled Malta between 1530 and 1798. This publication should prove useful to students of Maltese history, providing an introductory guide to these historical figures which will surely serve to whet the appetite for more detailed knowledge about the lives and achievements of our islands’ rulers.

These publications will also be available from the National Library.

The exhibition will be open to the public, free of charge, from Monday to Friday during the National Library’s opening hours, until the 2nd of August.

Popes and demons: Mysterious Vatican bank poses problem for new pontiff

The massive round tower, left, is the headquarters of the Institute for Works of Religion, the Vatican’s secretive bank.

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images FilesThe massive round tower, left, is the headquarters of the Institute for Works of Religion, the Vatican’s secretive bank.
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National Post | Mar 8, 2013by Adrian Humphreys
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As the world waits for the Vatican’s conclave to select a new pope to lead 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, and the church’s sex abuse scandals dominate discourse on the incoming pontiff’s priorities, another decidedly worldly issue is also poised to take an immediate toll on the new Holy Father: money.

The public and private woes of the Vatican bank, long shrouded in secrets and whispers, might well prove to be just as challenging, if not as draining, as the lurid, faith-shaking damage of the clergy abuse scandal.

With a two-year probe by Italian authorities into money laundering, poor transparency, inadequate adherence to standards for guarding against criminal and terrorist financing, and questions over sudden changes in its leadership, the bank represents another crisis of morals, legalities and perception.

The importance of the Vatican bank in Pope Benedict XVI’s grand vision can be assumed from the urgency it held with the outgoing pontiff: among the last official acts before his shock retirement was overhauling financial leadership and church oversight.

On Feb. 15, Benedict XVI approved the appointment of Ernst von Freyberg as the new president of the supervisory board of the Institute for Works of Religion, the church agency widely known as the Vatican bank.

The appointment of the German lawyer and businessman came after assessing “a number of candidates of professional and moral excellence,” the Vatican said in a statement.

“The Holy Father has closely followed the entire selection process … and he has expressed his full consent to the choice made by the Commission of Cardinals.”

While the appointment drew immediate criticism over the involvement of Mr. von Freyberg’s Blohm+Voss, an industrial group, in manufacturing German warships, including during the Nazi era, it also raised eyebrows for its timing. Putting money under the baton of a German is not out of step with European policy these days, but for an institution already rife with conspiracy theories the sudden shuffle could not go unnoticed.

“[Benedict’s] decision to retire was so unprecedented, you would think that he would have other things on his mind than replacing the head of the Vatican bank,” said Carlo Calvi, son of Roberto Calvi, who was known as “God’s Banker” because of his close ties to the Vatican before his outlandish death more than 30 years ago.

Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg Files

Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg FilesThe city of Rome, in Italy, is seen beyond St. Peter’s Square from the roof of the Basilica in Vatican City.
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Ernst von Freyberg. The Canadian Press Files.

Ernst von Freyberg. The Canadian Press Files.

“However, I am more surprised by the sackings — the people who were let go — rather than the appointments,” he said.

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was chairman of the Vatican bank until he was pushed out in May with a withering assessment of not being up for the job. He had been trying to get the Vatican onto the international banking “white list” of virtuous countries.

Then, on Feb. 22, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, a key church official pushing for better regulation and controls on the Vatican bank, was suddenly transferred from Rome to Colombia.

That transfer followed the moving of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was credited with turning a deficit for the Vatican into a large surplus through greater accountability and controls, from the Vatican to the United States.

One of the leaked documents in the “Vatileaks” scandal was a letter from Archbishop Vigano to Pope Benedict begging he remain in Rome to continue his financial crusade. The Pope was unmoved.

The transfers suggest change is not always welcome.

“Change under the new pope will be easier said than done because they make money on this, it is a source of income that has been used for a lot of purposes,” said Mr. Calvi. To address the problems, “They need, essentially, to do a very drastic reform that would almost certainly mean foregoing a considerable source of revenue.”

The Vatican bank has not always shown such virtuous strength, as Mr. Calvi knows better than most. Few outside the Vatican’s inner circle eye church finance as closely as Mr. Calvi, who now lives in Montreal.

Watching the Vatican bank has consumed Mr. Calvi’s adult life and the Calvi name almost consumed the Vatican bank.

His father was chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, an Italian Catholic bank closely linked to the Vatican.

Graham Hughes for National Post

Few outside the Vatican’s inner circle eye church finance as closely as Carlo Calvi, who now lives in Montreal. Graham Hughes for National Post
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The shadowy operations of Vatican finance forced its way into the public’s consciousness when Roberto Calvi was found dead, just as the scandalous operation of church finance was being revealed amid the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, Italy’s largest private bank, with $1-billion missing.

Since then, his unsolved death, first declared a suicide, then reclassified as a murder, and the cast of powerful figures and secretive organizations linked to it — from the Mafia and the Masonic lodge P2 to the powerful conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei and the Vatican itself — make it one of modern history’s enduring mysteries, Europe’s equal to the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance.

The case was also said to be linked to landmark Cold War politics, with claims Banco Ambrosiano was used by those close to John Paul II, the Polish pope, to fund the anti-Communist Solidarity movement in Poland and by those close to U.S. president Ronald Reagan to fund the Contra rebels of Central America.

The raw puzzle and quirks of Mr. Calvi’s death compel conspiracy theories and befuddlement, with small details that seem to mean much, but with no answer to exactly what.

The banker’s body was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge, his feet dangling in the River Thames in the heart of London, on June 18, 1982; he wore two pairs of underwear, had five bricks in his pockets, about $14,00-worth of three different currencies and the business card of a Mafia figure.

It was a death shouting in the symbolic language of Italy’s underworld.

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg Files

Blackfriars Bridge in London, U.K. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg Files
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“I am more of the idea that there are theatrical elements and not necessarily symbolic aspects to it,” said his son. “Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars were involved — if that is not a motive for murder, I don’t know what is.”

After all, any Catholic cleric would know: Radix malorum est cupiditas, the Latin Biblical quotation meaning greed is the root of evil.

The very notion of a church bank speaks to the awkward interface between the spiritual and temporal, represented by the pope being both leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City state.

Unlike many Vatican institutions, the Vatican bank is not of antique origin, having been formed in 1942 by Pius XII, although it had older antecedents. Its purpose is to protect and administer the property and funds intended for the church’s works.

Unlike true national central banks, it does not set monetary policy or involve itself in currency maintenance, as the Vatican uses the euro. Also unlike most banks, its surplus or profit is supposed to go toward religion or charity.

As it is not a true central bank, and with the Vatican not a full member of the European Union, its relationship with strict regulation has been more nebulous and its ends of religion or charity have, likewise, not always been clear.

“One would be surprised at the acceptance of risky relationships and risky behaviour for an organization like the Vatican. But, objectively, I’ve seen it. It is hard to understand, but it is true,” said Mr. Calvi.

Courtesy Carlo Calvi

“God’s Banker” Roberto Calvi, whose body was found hanging from a London bridge in 1982, meets Paul VI in an undated photo. Courtesy Carlo Calvi
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“In many cases, they seem to have little judgment in terms of the arrangements they get themselves into.”

In the fallout of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, though it claimed no wrongdoing, the Vatican bank paid $250-million to Ambrosiano’s creditors.

Since then, its regulatory framework has still not caught up to modern standards, especially in the post-9/11 world.

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/GettyImages Files

The former head of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was forced to resign from his post on May 24, 2012 “for failing to carry out duties of primary importance,” the Holy See said in a statement. Tiziana Fabi/AFP/GettyImages Files
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In 2010, Rome magistrates froze ¤23-million ($31-million) the Vatican bank held in an Italian bank. The Vatican said its bank was merely transferring its own funds between its own accounts in Italy and Germany. The money was released in June 2011, but an investigation continues.

In July, a European anti-money laundering committee said the Vatican bank failed to meet all its standards on fighting money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

The report by Moneyval, a monitoring committee of the 47-nation Council of Europe, found the Vatican passed nine of 16 “key and core” aspects of its financial dealings. The head of the Vatican delegation to the Moneyval committee was Msgr. Balestrero.

Msgr. Balestrero said the report was a call for the Vatican to push forward with “efforts to marry moral commitments to technical excellence” to prove “the Holy See’s and Vatican City state’s desire to be a reliable partner in the international community.”

Seven months later, he was reassigned to South America.

“The Moneyval report was one of the rare bits of good news for the Vatican last year. Balestrero was the one who dealt with Moneyval and they send him to Colombia. That doesn’t sound like the way to reward someone,” said Mr. Calvi.

This week, the widely read Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, which is distributed free in Italian parishes on Sundays, carried an article calling for the bank to be closed on the grounds the pontificate should not have direct links to the world of finance.

It argued there are plenty of ethically minded commercial banks in Italy and elsewhere that could be trusted to manage the Holy See’s assets.

In January, René Bruelhart, the new director of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, said the church was on the right track.

“Considering the particular nature of the Vatican City state, adequate measures have been adopted for vigilance, prevention, and fighting money laundering and financing terrorism,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

How much further the Vatican bank will go and how quickly it can get there, under both the new chairman and a new pope, is being anxiously watched by the world’s financial community. And by Mr. Calvi.

Pier Paolo Cito / The Associated Press Files

Then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, left, now former Pope Benedict XVI, looks on as late Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in 2002. Pier Paolo Cito / The Associated Press Files
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National Post, with files from news services

Knights of Malta treasures displayed in the Kremlin


Photo: RIA Novosti

Moscow Times| Jul 6, 2012

by Tatyana Zavyalova

Museums of Italy, France, Malta and Russia have combined efforts to make an impressive exhibition dedicated to the history of the oldest Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, better known as the Order of Malta.

This exhibition has opened in the Moscow Kremlin Museums to last between the 6th of July and the 9th of September.

Announcer: The exhibition called Nine Centuries of Serving Faith and Charity contains about 200 works of art and documents. The Moscow Kremlin Museums have provided a lot of unique items for the exhibition. Director of the Kremlin Museums Yelena Gagarina says:

“Rare items from collections and archives in Italy, Malta, France and the Island of Rhodes, as well as those of the Kremlin, bring to the memory the main periods of the life and activities of the Order of Malta that are full of heroic struggle and the noble cause of protecting poor people. Here one can see Grand Masters’ crowns, Daggers of Faith, crosses and insignia that belonged to famous Grand Masters, weapons and armour of the Knights and wonderful portraits. The highlight of the exhibition is a portrait of a Maltese knight painted by great Italian artist Caravaggio which was kindly lent by Palazzo Pitti in Florence.”

The exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Order of Malta. In this connection, Grand Master Matthew Festing has arrived Moscow. Officials of this high rank had not visited Russia for over 200 years. The opening ceremony of the exhibition in the Kremlin was attended by Fra John Critien, the keeper of the Order of Malta’s art collections. He remembered close historical links between Russia and the Order of Malta.

“The exhibition grants a wonderful opportunity for Russian people to better understand the Sovereign Military Order which had relations with the Russian Empire for several very important years. They were the years when Emperor Paul I, initially a patron of the Order, became its Grand master and thus saved the order during the critical years of its existence. Visitors will understand why the Russian Emperor protected the Catholic Order.”

Those events date back to the very end of the 18th century when Napoleon conquered Malta in 1798 and the Order was mercilessly robbed and evicted. Paul I came to the rescue and invited the knights, who were well-known in the world for their humanistic activities, to Russia. In gratitude, they gave him the title of Grand Master. After the death of Paul I, the next Russian Emperor Alexander I refused to be the head of the Order, so practically all regalia of the Order were returned from Russia to Rome.

Contacts between Russia and the Order of Malta began long before Paul I. The Knights often helped Russian sailors. Curator of the Kremlin exhibition Yelena Gavrilova speaks about one of the exhibits, a manuscript with a long list of names.

“During the Battle of the Dardanelles in 1656, the united Navy of Russia and Venice defeated the Turkish Navy. Seven thousand of Christian slaves who served on Turkish galleys were set free as a result. Two and a half thousand of them were taken to Malta where they were provided with food and medical treatment, clothes and money. This document reads that each of the former slaves was given a sort of a passport to be able to go home. This list contains 1,200 names of our fellow-countrymen, Orthodox Christians described as Muscovites or Rusites.”

The Order of Malta has the reputation of some kind of an international rescue team. It grants aid to people in many countries spending up to a billion euros a year. Some volunteers of the Order are Russians, though there are only about 100 of them.

‘Pope’s Banker’ feared being killed by Mafia


Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Photograph by: Getty Images

Daily Telegraph | Jun 8, 2012

The former head of the Vatican bank compiled a secret dossier of compromising information about the Holy See because he feared for his life, it was claimed Thursday.

In the latest twist in a scandal that has convulsed the papacy, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi reportedly gave copies of the documents to his closest confidantes and told them: “If I am killed, the reason for my death is in here. I’ve seen things in the Vatican that would frighten anyone.”

One of the documents was reportedly titled “internal enemies” and contained the names of senior clergy and powerful Italian politicians.

Other emails and letters related to “money of dubious provenance” being allegedly funnelled through the Vatican bank, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Gotti Tedeschi, 67, was appointed in 2009 but fired May 24, the day after the Pope’s butler was arrested on suspicion of stealing confidential letters and leaking them to journalists.

He was allegedly ousted by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, in a dispute over efforts to improve the transparency of the scandal-idden bank.

Gotti Tedeschi appeared to have compiled the dossier to defend himself against charges of incompetence, mismanagement and possible money-laundering

Gotti Tedeschi was so fearful for his safety that he hired body-guards and sought advice from a private investigation agency, the Italian media reported.

The claims evoked memories of one of the Vatican’s darkest chapters – the mysterious death in 1982 of Roberto Calvi, nick-named “God’s Banker,” who was president of Italy’s largest private bank, the Banco Ambrosiano.

After the failure of the bank, which had close links to the Vatican, Calvi was found hanged from scaffolding beneath Black-friars Bridge in London, amid suspicions that he had been murdered by mafia godfathers as punishment for losing money they had invested.

“Gotti Tedeschi was nick-named ‘The Pope’s Banker’ and he feared meeting the same end as ‘God’s Banker,’ ” said news-paper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

Saudi woman makes a stand against feared religious police


As of Monday, the video was viewed more than 1,142,000 times Photo: YOUTUBE

A YouTube video of a Saudi woman defying orders by the notorious religious police to leave a shopping centre because she is wearing nail polish has gone viral, attracting more than a million hits in just five days but thousands of negative comments.

Telegraph | May 28, 2012

The three and a half minute video posted on May 23 shows members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice telling the women to “get out of here”

But she refuses to comply, saying: “I’m staying and I want to know what you’re going to do about.”

“It’s none of your business if I wear nail polish,” the unidentified woman, who is not seen on tape, is heard shouting at bearded men from the feared religious force.

“You are not in charge of me,” she defiantly shouts back, referring to new constraints imposed earlier this year on the religious police banning them from harassing Saudi women over their behaviour and attire.

“The government has banned you from coming after us,” she told the men, adding “you are only supposed to provide advice, and nothing more”.

Saudi Woman Defies Religious Police: It Is None of Your Business If I Wear Nail Polish

As of Monday, the video was viewed more than 1,142,000 times, with over 12,000 people posting comments online, most of them denouncing the woman’s behaviour.

One posting said she had “no shame” and accused her of “prostituting” herself. Another called her a “slut” and a “whore.”

The clip earned only about 1800 “likes”. The number of “dislikes” reached almost 7000.

In January, Saudi King Abdullah appointed a more moderate head of the religious police raising hopes that a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the Islamic country.

Two weeks into his post, Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh banned volunteers from serving in the commission which enforces the kingdom’s strict Islamic rules.

And in April he went further prohibiting the religious police from “harassing people” and threatening “decisive measures against violators”.

The woman filmed the incident herself and posted it on YouTube. At one point during the video, she cautions the religious police that she has already posted the exchange online.

It is also not clear if the woman was eventually forced to leave the centre. The religious police prevent women from driving, require them to be covered from head to foot in black, ban public entertainment, and force all commerce, from supermarkets to petrol stations, to come to a halt at prayer times, five times a day.

Vatican says trust in Church hurt by corruption scandal

Vatican tries to play down extent of scandal

Reuters | May 28, 2012

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, May 28, (Reuters) – The Vatican, engulfed in the worst crisis in Pope Benedict’s papacy, on Monday denied Italian media reports that cardinals were suspects in an investigation into leaks of sensitive documents that led to the arrest of the pope’s butler.

But while denying the reports, which said the butler was merely a courier in a behind-the-scenes struggle for power in the Holy See, the Vatican acknowledged that the often sordid affair would test the faith of Catholics in their Church.

The scandal exploded last week when – within a few days – the head of the Vatican’s own bank was abruptly dismissed, the butler was arrested over leaks and a book was published alleging conspiracies among cardinals, the “princes of the Church”.

Documents leaked to journalists allege corruption in the Church’s vast financial dealings with Italian business.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told a news conference: “This is naturally something that can hurt the Church, and put trust in it and the Holy See to the test.”

Italian newspapers, quoting other whistle blowers in the Vatican, said the arrested butler was merely a scapegoat doing the bidding of more powerful figures, punished because the Church did not dare implicate cardinals behind the leaks.

“There are leakers among the cardinals but the Secretariat of State could not say that, so they arrested the servant, Paolo, who was only delivering letters on behalf of others,” La Repubblica quoted one leaker as saying.

The Secretariat of State is run by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pope’s powerful right-hand man, and the scandal appears to involve a struggle between his allies and enemies, reminiscent of Renaissance conspiracies inside the Vatican.

It has been brewing for months, but since it burst into the open it has shaken the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church.

La Stampa daily quoted one of the alleged leakers as saying their goal was to help the pope root out corruption.

After an investigation inside the Holy See, the butler, Paolo Gabriele, 46, was charged on Saturday with stealing confidential papal documents. Leakers quoted by La Stampa, La Repubblica and other media said the leaking plot went much wider and higher.

Lombardi denied that any cardinal was being investigated for leaks. “I categorically deny that any cardinal, Italian or otherwise, is a suspect,” Lombardi said.

The pope was being kept fully informed of the case, Lombardi said: “He continues on his path of serenity, his position of faith and morals that is above the fray.”

BUTLER TO COOPERATE

One of Gabriele’s two lawyers, Carlo Fusco, said his client, who is being held inside a Vatican police station, would cooperate fully with investigators who are trying to track down other suspects.

He said Gabriele, who attended mass on Monday morning and was visited by his wife, was “very serene and tranquil.”

Critics of the pope say a lack of strong leadership has opened the door to infighting among his powerful aides – and potentially to the corruption alleged in the leaked documents.

Many Vatican insiders believe the butler, who had access to the pope’s private apartment, could not have acted alone. He is being held in a “safe room” in the Vatican police station and has been charged with aggravated theft.

Now known in Vatican statements as “the defendant” – he was until Wednesday night the quiet man who served the pope’s meals, helped him dress and held his umbrella on rainy days.

“I think this is a very serious moment it is a grave crisis because it has to do with the breach of trust in the inner circle of the Vatican,” said Robert Moynihan,” editor of the magazine Inside the Vatican.

“The pope cannot be sure that a document at his own desk isn’t going to be taken and photocopied. It seems that the person taking those documents has been discovered but there is a general feeling that this represents more than that, that there is someone else behind it,” Moynihan told Reuters television.

But Gianluigi Nuzzi, the Italian journalist who has received many of the documents over recent months and last week published his book “His Holiness”, criticised the focus on rounding up leakers, rather than rooting out the corruption they expose.

“Surely, arresting someone and rounding up people and treating them like delinquents to stop them from passing on true information to newspapers would cause an uproar in other countries,” he said. “There would be a petition to free them.”

WEED OUT CORRUPTION

While news of the butler’s arrest has filled newspapers in Italy and beyond, the Vatican’s own newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has ignored the story. Some say this may be because the paper itself has been an instrument in the power struggle between Bertone’s allies and foes.

The Vatican’s announcement of the arrest of the butler came a day after the president of the Vatican bank, Italian Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was fired after a no confidence vote by its board of external financial experts, who come from Germany, Spain, the United States and Italy.

Gotti Tedeschi’s ousting was a blow to Bertone, who as secretary of state was instrumental in bringing him in from Spain’s Banco Santander to run the Vatican bank in 2009.

The Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), was set up during World War II to manage the accounts of Vatican agencies, church organisations, bishops and religious orders.

It has been involved in financial scandals – most notably in 1982 when its then-president, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, was indicted over the collapse of what was then Italy’s largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano, with more than a billion dollars in debts. Banco Ambrosiano’s chairman Roberto Calvi was found hanged under London’s Blackfriar’s Bridge in 1984.

In September 2010, Italian investigators froze millions of euros in funds in Italian banks after opening a probe into money laundering involving IOR accounts, which the bank denies.

The Vatican is trying to make the IOR more transparent and join an international “white list” of countries that comply with international safeguards against money laundering and fraud. A decision is expected within months.

Documents leaked over the last few months included letters by an archbishop who was transferred to Washington by Bertone after blowing the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption in a memo that put a number of cardinals in a bad light. Other documents alleged internal conflicts over the Vatican bank.

“I feel very sad for the pope. This whole thing is such a disservice to the Church,” said Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus charity group and a member of the board of the Vatican bank who voted to fire Gotti Tedeschi.

Anderson told Reuters Gotti Tedeschi was sacked because of “a fundamental failure to perform his basic responsibilities”. Gotti Tedeschi has said he was ousted because he wanted the bank to be more transparent, but Anderson rejected that assertion.

“Categorically, this action by the board had nothing to do with his promotion of transparency,” Anderson said. “In fact, he was becoming an obstacle to greater transparency by his inability to work with senior management.” (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Barry Moody and Peter Graff)

Vatican scandal could expose more corruption

CBS | May 28, 2012

By Charlie D’Agata


Few believe the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, is the sole source of leaks about the inner workings of the Catholic Church. (CBS News)

(CBS News) LONDON – A scandal that has rocked Vatican City threatened to expand Monday. So far, the only person under arrest is Pope Benedict XVI’s butler. But few believe that he is the sole source of the leaks that have exposed corruption and double-dealing inside the leadership of the Catholic Church.

At the center of the holy whodunit is Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s personal butler. Since he was arrested last week on suspicion of stealing confidential documents, rumors have swirled that he must have had some high-ranking help — perhaps as high as the so-called ‘princes of the Church,’ the cardinals.

Marco Tosatti covers the Vatican for one of Italy’s biggest newspapers. “If Paolo Gabriele acted as he did,” he said, “well, probably there was somebody very important who convinced him to do it.”

On Monday, the Vatican denied that any cardinal was under investigation.

But the scandal shows no sign of slowing. The butler pledged that he’d cooperate fully with investigators, raising the specter that he would name others.

Gabriele — a father of three — has worked for the Pope since 2006, and is one of the few layman to have access to the Pope’s private apartment.

He’s accused of leaking letters and memos to Italian journalists that allegedly show corruption in the Church’s financial dealings with Italian businesses, including money laundering and kickbacks.

The revelations are part of a number of embarrassing leaks that show the Church and its inner workings in disarray.

For the moment Paolo Gabriele is the lone arrest. If found guilty, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

Mystery deepens around Vatican scandals

Globe and Mail | May 28, 2012

by ERIC REGULY

ROME — The rapid-fire ouster of the chief of the Vatican bank and the arrest of the Pope’s butler have plunged the Vatican into yet another crisis. Were the two events connected?

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion, was fired last Thursday for a variety of alleged sins, including “progressively erratic behaviour,” by the bank’s board of superintendence. Two days later, Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict’s butler since 2006, was arrested for the unauthorized possession of sensitive Vatican documents.

The firing and the arrest have, at least on the surface, plunged the Vatican into one of its worst crises since Benedict became pontiff in 2005, only to find himself scrambling to clean up the church’s sexual-abuse mess.

But sources close to the Vatican say that while last week’s events were embarrassing to Benedict, they are evidence that he is working hard to clean up the Vatican bank and other nooks and crannies within the church’s Rome headquarters.

“Transparency is the issue,” said a Vatican source, who did not want to be named. “He wants the bank to be clean.”

The Vatican’s media office insists there is no link between the firing of Mr. Tedeschi, who is a former executive of Santander, Spain’s most successful bank, and Mr. Gabriele. But both men are accused of at least one similar offence – leaking documents.

Mr. Gabriele was formally charged with stealing confidential papal documents and passing them to the news media. Some of the documents obtained by the Italian press in the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal reportedly related to the Vatican bank’s halting efforts to comply with international standards to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.

Many of the documents found their way to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi whose book, Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, was published shortly before the ouster of Mr. Tedeschi.

Among the nine allegations made in support of Mr. Tedeschi’s firing was his “failure to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last know to be in the President’s possession,” according to the two-page, no-confidence resolution written by Carl Anderson, a member of the bank’s board of superintendence, and obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The Vatican is investigating the leaks that created turmoil within the its ranks since last year. The Italian news media have suggested that the leaks are part of a power struggle designed to discredit Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s right-hand man and head of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

The Vatican source suggested that Italian banks might be exploiting the leaks related to the Vatican bank itself. He noted that the banks would love to pick up some of the Vatican bank’s activities, should scandal force it to shrink. “Italian banks might be trying to discredit [the Vatican bank] in order to get its business,” he said.

The Vatican bank has its roots in the 1800s and came into its present form in 1942, under Pope Pius II. The secretive bank manages billions of euros in assets, including the Vatican’s vast portfolio of real estate and other investments. At times, it has been run by a professional chief executive plucked from the banking industry, and reports to a committee of cardinals who in turn report to the pope.

The bank is no stranger to scandal or political controversy. John Cornwell, one of the leading authorities on Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, wrote in his book The Pontiff In Winter, that there are “indications” the Vatican bank funnelled $50-million (U.S.) to Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s. Mr. Cornwell cited rumours that the delivery man was Roberto Calvi, the Banco Ambrosiano chairman who was found hanged under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982.

Mr. Calvi was called “God’s Banker” because of his close association with the Vatican bank and its boss, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who was known as the “Pope’s Gorilla” for his tough mannerisms. The Vatican was implicated in Ambrosiano’s fraudulent bankruptcy in 1982. Without admitting any wrongdoing, the Vatican paid $240-million to compensate Ambrosiano’s account holders.

Mr. Tedeschi was hired in 2009 to modernize the Vatican bank and make it transparent to the point it would comply with international banking standards. The bank’s goal was to make the “white list” of states that comply with the transparency requirements set out by the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation. They are designed to fight tax evasion, money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The need to clean up the bank was highlighted in 2010, when Italian prosecutors, on suspicion of money-laundering violations, seized €23-million ($29-million U.S.) from a Rome bank account registered to the Vatican bank.

In an interview with Reuters, Mr. Anderson, the Vatican bank board member, said Mr. Tedeschi was ousted because he “was becoming an obstacle to greater transparency by his inability to work with senior management.”

On Monday, the Vatican denied Italian media reports that a cardinal was among suspects in the leaked documents’ scandals. The Vatican source, however, said that more arrests in the Vatileaks affair might be coming.

Vatican forced to deny senior cardinal is mastermind of Vatileaks scandal


Paolo Gabriele, front left, has worked for Benedict XVI for five years Photo: EPA

The Vatican has been forced to deny that a senior cardinal is the mastermind behind the so-called Vatileaks scandal that has seen the Pope’s personal butler arrested.

Telegraph | May 28, 2012

By Nick Pisa, Rome

Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s official spokesman, was forced to speak out after several Italian newspapers claimed that the brains of the operation – where potentially embarrassing Vatican documents found their way into the Italian press – was an unidentified “prince of the church.”

Speculation has continued to gather pace that senior Church figures are behind the leaking of sensitive Vatican documents and that butler Paolo Gabriele, who has worked for Benedict XVI for five years, is nothing more than a scapegoat. Gabriele was arrested last week after documents were found inside his Vatican apartment.

Several Italian newspaper carried an interview with an anonymous whistle-blower who explained why the documents were being leaked.

“There’s a group of us: the real brains behind it are cardinals, then there are monsignors, secretaries, small fry”, the informer said.

“The valet is just a delivery boy that somebody wants to set up. Vatican intelligence has security systems more advanced than anything the CIA has but cardinals are still in the habit of writing their messages by hand and dictating them.

“It’s open warfare, with everyone against everyone else. Those doing it are acting to protect the Pope.”

He added: “There are those opposed to the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. And those who think that Benedict XVI is too weak to lead the church. And those who think that this is the time to step forward. So it’s become everyone against everyone.”

The source also explained how Benedict had gathered a select group of five people to act as his eyes and ears within the Vatican “to protect himself”.

Within hours of the interview being published Father Lombardi issued a denial categorically stating “no cardinal was involved and no one else is under investigation.”

Elsewhere Cardinal Robert Sarah, 67, head of the Pontifical Council Cor Um, which handles church missions around the world was the first senior figure within the Curia to speak out about the scandal.

“Let’s hope that the arrest of the butler is an isolated case and that there are no other traitors plotting in the Vatican,” he said. “There is much sadness. It is painful to see someone like the Holy Father betrayed by someone who is so close to him.

“However it would be even more serious if other accomplices came to light. That’s why we must let the magistrates investigate fully to clarify this shocking situation and until then nothing can be excluded including a plot or some other guided hand.”

Missing girl buried in murdered mobster’s tomb was kidnapped for Vatican sex parties


Emanuela Orlandi, 15, went missing in Rome in 1983. Pietro Orlandi, Emanuela’s brother said it was time for the Vatican to come clean about what it knows of Emanuela’s disappearance

Daily Mail | May 22, 2012

By Nick Pisa

The Catholic Church’s leading exorcist priest has sensationally claimed a missing schoolgirl thought to be buried in a murdered gangster’s tomb was kidnapped for Vatican sex parties.

Father Gabriel Amorth, 85, who has carried out 70,000 exorcisms, spoke out as investigators continued to examine mobster Enrico De Pedis’s tomb in their hunt for Emanuela Orlandi.

Last week police and forensic experts broke into the grave after an anonymous phone call to a TV show said the truth about Emanuela’s 1983 disappearance would be ‘found there’.

And although bones not belonging to the mobster were recovered they have not yet been positively identified as hers.

However Father Amorth, in an interview with La Stampa newspaper, said: ‘This was a crime with a sexual motive.

‘It has already previously been stated by (deceased) monsignor Simeone Duca, an archivist at the Vatican, who was asked to recruit girls for parties with the help of the Vatican gendarmes.

‘I believe Emanuela ended up in this circle. I have never believed in the international theory (overseas kidnappers). I have motives to believe that this was just a case of sexual exploitation.

‘It led to the murder and then the hiding of her body. Also involved are diplomatic staff from a foreign embassy to the Holy See.’

Today there was no immediate response from the Vatican to Father Amorth’s claims.

But Vatican officials insisted they had always co-operated with the investigation into Orlandi’s disappearance – a claim that her brother has often disputed.

Father Amorth is a colourful figure who in the past has also denounced yoga and Harry Potter as the ‘work of the Devil’. He was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II as the Vatican’s chief exorcist.

It is not the first time Father Amorth has raised eyebrows with his forthright views – two years ago he said sex scandals rocking the Catholic Church were evidence ‘the Devil was at work in the Vatican.’

In 2006, Father Amorth, who was ordained a priest in 1954, gave an interview to Vatican Radio in which he said Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Russian dictator Josef Stalin were possessed by the Devil.

According to secret Vatican documents recently released the then wartime Pope Pius XII attempted a ‘long distance exorcism’ of Hitler but it failed to have any effect.

Charismatic mobster De Pedis, leader of a murderous gang known as the Banda della Magliana, was gunned down aged just 38, by members of his outfit after they fell out.

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, 15, in 1983, believe De Pedis is linked to her kidnap and the body of the Vatican employee’s daughter has never been found.

Last month the diocese of Rome, on orders from the Vatican, granted investigators permission to open up the tomb in the Sant’Apollinare basilica close to Piazza Navona in the centre of Rome.

At the time of his funeral there were raised eyebrows when despite his criminal past church chiefs allowed De Pedis to be buried in the crypt of Sant’Apollinare.

At the time it was said the burial was given the go ahead because prison chaplain Father Vergari told bishops that De Pedis had ‘repented while in jail and also done a lot of work for charity,’ including large donations to the Catholic Church.

De Pedis, whose name on the £12,000 tomb is spelt in diamonds, was buried in Sant’Apollinare church after he was gunned down in 1990 in the city’s famous Campo De Fiori.

He and his gang controlled the lucrative drug market in Rome and were also rumoured to have a ‘free hand’ because of their links with police and Italian secret service agents.

The disappearance of Orlandi reads like the roller coaster plot of a Dan Brown Da Vinci Code thriller with a touch of The Godfather thrown in for good measure.

Twelve years ago a skull was found in the confessional box of a Rome church and tests were carried out on it to see if it was Orlandi after a mystery tip off but they proved negative.

In 2008 Sabrina Minardi, De Pedis girlfriend at the time of Orlandi’s disappearance, sensationally claimed that now dead American monsignor Paul Marcinkus, the controversial chief of the Vatican bank, was behind the kidnap.

Monsignor Marcinkus used his status to avoid being questioned by police in the early 1980’s probing the collapse of a Banco Ambrosiano which the Vatican had invested heavily in.

The collapse was linked to the murder of Roberto Calvi dubbed God’s Banker because of the Vatican links and his body was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in June 1982.

His pockets filled with cash and stones and it was originally recorded as a suicide but police believe he was murdered by the Mafia after a bungled money laundering operation.

At the same time as Minardi made her claim a mystery caller to a missing person’s programme on Italian TV said the riddle of Orlandi’s kidnap would be solved ‘if De Pedis tomb was opened’.

Following Minardi claims the Vatican took the unusual step of speaking publicly and dismissed her claims about American Monsignor Marcinkus, who died in Arizona four years ago.