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Pope’s Personal Income: Billions and Very Secret

In 2013, the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate, Catholics around the world put €378 million (over $515 million) in the collection basket for the annual Peter’s Pence donation, the fund for the pope’s charitable works. This information was provided by Emiliano Fittipaldi in his book, Avarice: Documents Revealing Wealth, Scandals and Secrets of Francis’ Church.

That same year, as in every year before, the Vatican Bank financial statement noted that profits were “offered to the Holy Father in support of his apostolic and charitable ministry.” In 2013, that was “a sum of €50,000,000” (over $68 million). A declaration that profits were given to the pope has been omitted in subsequent  statements.

Beginning in March 2016, the “messages of Pope Francis published daily on Twitter and Instagram together with photos and reflections” include a link for making donations to the Peter’s Pence fund  for “all people who want to help those most in need.” The papal Twitter accounts in nine languages have over 40 million followers and his Instagram account is close to 5 million, according to the Vatican Secretariat for Communications,  the new department created by Pope Francis to make sure “what the pope says and does is made known to the world as quickly as possible.”

Additionally, the Peter’s Pence fund was given its own web site in November 2016 to increase the opportunity for more online contributions.

MissioBot is an automatic chat system on Facebook Messenger, “which helps guide users through a chat experience with words by Pope Francis … The participant then has the opportunity to pray for particular intentions or donate to specific causes.”

In exchange for the license to use the pope’s image, nine percent of the sales price of each “Superpope” T-shirt depicting Pope Francis as a flying superhero goes to the Peter’s Pence fund.

On April 27, 2017, Pope Francis thanked the U.S. Papal Foundation for their annual contribution to his charities, $15 million in 2015 and $10 million in 2016. Last February, he thanked the Knights of Columbus for their $1.6 million donation.

Pope Francis also “receives lavish donations” from the wealthy, like Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Leonardo Di Caprio.

Proceeds from corporate charity events, such as those at $5,900 per head, are also given to the pope.

The pope is given many personal gifts. Some are auctioned. Others are raffled and the tickets, about $11 each, “are available for purchase online and in several areas accessible to the public, such as the Vatican Museums’ bookshop and the Vatican post office or pharmacy.” Tickets are also sold at the 6,300-seat Paul VI hall where, every Wednesday in the winter and inclement weather, Pope Francis holds his “general audience.”

That’s just some of the sources of the pope’s personal revenue we know about. But there are private donations, also. For example, it was reported during the 2012 Vatileak’s scandal that a check for €100,000 made payable to Pope Benedict was found in the home of his “butler” along with other items that had been pilfered from the papal office. Since Pope Francis is immensely more popular than his predecessor, it is likely he receives more private donations.

If we know that Pope Francis’ income was at least $600 million in 2013, then in the next four years – given all the additional online requests for donations reaching millions; special events; merchandise licensing; auctions and raffles; donations from Catholic organizations and whatever additional funds are generated by his global popularity – it is not an exaggeration to estimate his income in the billions of dollars.

Very secret

Of course, Pope Francis contributes to charity. But we don’t know how much or how much has been made available.

Gianluigi Nuzzi was also given confidential Vatican financial documents which included the 2013 fiscal year. That Pope Francis made only 20 percent of the Peter’s Pence collection available for the poor was disclosed in his book, Merchants in the Temple. The rest went to subsidize the Vatican bureaucracy.

Both Nuzzi’s and Fittipaldi’s books were published Nov. 5, 2015. Both men were indicted by the Vatican on Nov. 21 under Pope Francis’ new law criminalizing the disclosure of confidential Vatican information. On Nov. 30, Pope Francis said, “I gave the judges the concrete charges” as regards the upcoming trial.

In response to the journalists’ indictments, freedom-of-the-press organizations quickly criticized the Vatican and called for the criminal charges against the journalists to be withdrawn. Among them were the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Reporters Without Borders, Italy’s National Order of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Foreign Press Association in Rome, the association of reporters accredited to the Vatican (AIGAV), the National Federation of Press in Italy (FNSI) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFI).

No similar response was made by the American press.

The International Press Institute’s Director of Press Freedom Programmes, Scott Griffen, said the indictments “suggest that the Vatican is intolerant of public scrutiny.” It was noted that the Vatican “is one of only three European countries, together with Belarus and Kazakhstan, that are not a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression.”

After the trial lasted eight months, the prosecution admitted it had no jurisdiction over Nuzzi and Fittipaldi.

More secrets

While the Vatican Bank is forced by international financial regulators to publish annual reports in order to continue doing business globally, the Vatican voluntarily published an annual “Consolidated financial statement of the Holy See and the Governorate of Vatican City State.” This was instituted by Pope John Paul II after the damaging 1980’s Vatican Bank scandal and made available every year until now. Like the Vatican Bank statements, there was no disclosure of where assets were invested and  they were not independently verified. They did, however, shed some light on incomes and expenditures.

For example, in 2011 the Peter’s Pence collection was $65.9 million; in 2012 $69.7 million. The first item to be eliminated from public disclosure by Pope Francis in the fiscal year 2013 and subsequent years 2014 and 2015 was the amount of the Peter’s Pence collection. (We know that the collection for 2013 totaled 378 million euro only because it was revealed in Fittipaldi’s book.)

A “Consolidate financial statement” for 2016 has not yet been published.

In late 2015, the Council of the Economy, a group of eight cardinals or bishops and seven lay people appointed by Pope Francis, authorized PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) to audit the Vatican’s finances “in an effort to bring accountability, transparency and international accounting standards to 136 Vatican departments.”

(An April 2015 article in Il Sole 24 Ore stated the Vatican’s assets – securities, commercial real estate and bank accounts – for all its departments and offices combined “by a conservative estimate” would be around 15-17 billion euro.)

In April 2016, the contract with PwC was suspended by order of the Secretariat of State. A statement from the Secretariat for the Economy said that “so called concerns” about the PwC audit “were only raised when auditors began asking for certain financial information and were finding it difficult to get answers.”

Two months later, the Vatican announced that PwC would no longer be responsible for a far-reaching financial audit and would, instead, be performed by the Auditor General appointed by Pope Francis. “The work of PwC would have been the first of its kind and was going to provide a complete picture of Vatican finances, including a valuation of assets … The current Auditor General is Libero Milone, a London-educated accountant who is a former chairman of Deloitte – a global accountancy firm – in Italy,” reported The Tablet.

On June 20, 2017, the Vatican said Milone resigned but gave no reason. In an interview, Milone stated, “I did not voluntarily resign, I was forced.” He said that the second highest official in the Secretariat of State told him that a “relationship of trust” with Pope Francis no longer existed and that the pope had asked for his resignation. Milone claimed “the Vatican accused him of having hired an outside firm to spy on Vatican officials.”

No replacement has been named.

The “respected” deputy director of the Vatican Bank, Giulio Mattietti, was fired two weeks ago on Nov. 27.  “Some colleagues, as a sign of friendship, accompanied him on his way out.” Mattietti had been appointed, along with the director general of the bank, by Pope Francis in 2015.

Again, the Vatican provided no reason. However, “sources close to the Vatican Bank explained that there has been a breakdown of trust.” Other sources “support some connections with the dismissal of Milone.”

Neither Milone nor Matietti have been accused of any financial malfeasance. So what do a loss of a “relationship of trust” and “breakdown of trust” imply? Were either or both suspected of breaking the code of silence demanded of Vatican employees and criminalized by Pope Francis?

Immediately after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, he was asked why he broke centuries of tradition and became the first to select the name “Francis.” He said he “thought of Francis of Assisi” adding, “This is what I want, a poor Church for the poor.”

It’s time for Pope Francis to literally put his money where his mouth is. He should make his income and all Vatican finances transparent and independently verifiable.

My previous blogs on Vatican finance:

“Libero Milone’s resignation indicates that there could be a Vatileaks III.”

The Un-Reformed Vatican

With an Estimated 17B in Assets, Pope Francis Creates a Day of the Poor.

Why a Miscreant Like Cardianal Pell is Head of Vatican Finance.

Pope Francis is not anti-capitalism. By his actions, he supports the plutocracy.

The Pope’s Treasure.

Vatican Inc.’s Future Secured by Pope Francis.

The Pope Preaches to the G8 Leaders.

Serving Mammon.

The Vatican and the Gold Standard.

What is the Vatican REALLY Like?

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Two New Books Reveal the Dark Heart of the Francis Papacy: Sex Abuse

Emiliano Fittipaldi’s Lussuria. Peccati scandali e tradimenti di una Chiesa fatta di uomini (Lust. Sins, Scandals, and Betrayal of a Church Made of Men) chronicles Pope Francis’ personal involvement in the global sex abuse of children.

Gianluigi Nuzzi’s Peccato Originale (Original Sin) recounts how Pope Francis was personally informed of alleged sex abuse of minors in the Vatican’s preseminary where boys aspiring to become priests serve as altar boys for papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The pope did nothing to stop it.

From the beginning 

Fittipaldi relates how, a month after his election in March 2013, Pope Francis appointed a council of eight cardinals to help him govern the Church. Three had protected and covered-up for pedophile priests.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga is the pope’s close friend and he named Rodriguez Maradiaga as coordinator of the group. “Maradiaga had protected a pedophile priest from Costa Rica, a fugitive from Interpol, who was found in bed with an eight-year-old child by her mother,” according to Fittipaldi.

Prior to his selection by the new pope, Australian Cardinal George Pell had made national headlines for years. He was called a “sociopath” by relatives of children sexually abused by priests for his callous and combative treatment of the survivors and their families. When John Ellis, a former altar boy, sued Pell and the Sydney archdiocese, Pell “instructed his lawyers to crush this victim.”

Pell recently returned to Australia to defend himself against accusations of “historical sexual assaults” involving “multiple complainants” in the state of Victoria. “Up to 50 witnesses could give evidence.”

Another member of the pope’s new council, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, had made headlines in Chile for protecting the serial pedophile, Fr. Fernando Karadima. According to civil court testimony, Errázuriz, tried to shame accusers into dropping claims, refused to meet with them or failed to carry out formal investigations for years.

When Pope Francis appointed Errázuriz as one of his closest advisers, a victim of Karadima called it “a shame and a disgrace.”

On September 21, 2013, Pope Francis approved Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican department that has dealt with all sexual abuse cases since 2001. Pope Francis elevated Muller to cardinal in February 2014.

When Müller was bishop of Regensburg, Germany, in 2004, he appointed a convicted pedophile, Fr. Peter Kramer, as pastor of a parish. “Kramer sexually abused more children in his new assignment and was again convicted of child abuse.”

Pope Francis replaced Müller on June 30, 2017, with his CDF deputy, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer. Fittipaldi reported that Ladaria “two years ago, had dismissed a pedophile priest [Gianni Trotta], but when he sent the letter to the Bishop of Foggia to give the news, told him not to tell anyone to avoid a scandal among the faithful. This former priest became coach of a children’s soccer team and raped half of the team.”

Fittipaldi:

“My feeling is that even today in the Vatican there are letters that say ‘keep quiet.’ This is not only an immoral matter, but a legal and criminal matter, because in these scandals not only will the victims not have their justice, but pedophiles who are still at liberty will have the possibility of making new victims ….

In the Church with Pope Francis, it is necessary to wash the dirty clothes inside the Vatican, without anyone seeing. If it’s a mafia attitude, I do not know, but it’s certainly a disgusting attitude, especially when we’re dealing with children’s lives ….

Sexual abuse of children is not an outdated phenomenon. In the first three years of the pontificate of Bergoglio, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted 1200 allegations of ‘probable’ abuse of little boys and girls assisted by the Vatican guideline, which still do not require compulsory denunciation [to civil authorities] for the sexual violence of priests … Changing this law would take a minute for Pope Francis, but he does not do so ….

I give an example. In 2014, two UN commissions, the Commission Against Torture and the Commission for the Defense of the Child, asked the Vatican to disclose information about the ongoing proceedings in the Congregation regarding children and priests, asked them to withdraw the obligation of silence in relation to this type of process, because if one speaks of these secret processes [he] risks dismissal and excommunication, and did not get any answer. We know nothing about the 1200 trials that were opened in these three years of this pontificate on pedophile priests around the world ….

There is always less talk about pedophilia now because the Vatican propaganda is very strong, but the official figures I publish exclusively show that the phenomenon is even more serious than before.

[Benedict XVI] was very traditionalist and conservative, and so the journalists did not like him, but he did important things. The things he did in relation to pedophilia, which was not much, but double the time for prescribing crimes in the Vatican, sent away almost 600 priests in a few years. The incredible thing is that Francis did a lot less.

More lack of concern in the U.S. media

Just last August, the U.S. State Department requested the Vatican waive diplomatic immunity for Msgr. Carlo Capella, one of Pope Francis’ senior diplomats who he posted to the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. in 2016. Capella was accused of collecting child pornography.

“Granted, this priest is not known to be accused of directly abusing children. But if he is in possession of child pornography, as the United States alleges, he might as well be, since child pornography is almost always filmed under horrific circumstances,” noted journalist, Barbie Latza Nadeau.

Capella was “secretly swooped back to Rome” where “he won’t face any secular charges any time soon because he is safely inside the fortified walls of Vatican City,” noted Nadeau.

The next month, police in Windsor, Ontario – connected by a tunnel to Detroit, Michigan – accused Capella of “accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.” Robert Talach, an Ontario lawyer, said Capella should be extradited back to Canada. “If Pope Francis has been nothing but a PR exercise this will prove it,” he said.

One can only imagine the response of the rest of the U.S. media if Pope Benedict had done the same.

Again, Pope Francis fails to take action

Nuzzi reported that Kamil Tadeusz Jarzembowski, who entered the St. Pius X preseminary at the age of 13, wrote a letter about the sexual abuse of minors and handed it directly to Pope Francis.

After Nuzzi’s book and a Italian television reported on the abuse, the Vatican said it opened an investigation on Nov. 18.

This is the seventh time that we know of where Pope Francis was directly informed about sexual predators and took no action until forced to, in some instances, by the foreign media. The current case of Fr. Corradi is especially egregious.

By open letter and video message “handed to Pope Francis” in May 2014, former students at the notorious Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Italy begged the pope for justice. More than one hundred deaf and mute children had been sexually abused at the boarding school.

The letter told Pope Francis that three of the accused Italian perpetrators – including Fr. Nicola Corradi – held current positions at the Provolo Institute in Argentina. The pope took no action to stop them.

Corradi and four others in the Argentine school were arrested in November 2016 and charged with raping and molesting at least 22 children. Other reports poured in and “it’s now thought that as many as 60 children fell victim to abuse.”

Prosecutors said the alleged anal and vaginal rapes, fondling and oral sex took place in the bathrooms, dorms, garden, basement and chapel. “Victims said they were taken to the Casita de Dios (the little house of God) where they were forced to perform sexual acts on one another and made to watch other students being abused.”

“One of the alleged victims said she witnessed how a girl was raped by one priest while the other one forced her to give him oral sex.”  Another accused a nun “of making her wear a diaper to cover up a hemorrhage after she was raped by a priest” when she was five years old.

“The tormentors” knew “the other children wouldn’t hear the screams as they were deaf.”

Pope Francis leaves complicit bishops in place

Pope Francis has taken no action against any of the 14 other bishops accused of complicity with abusive priests. A recent investigation in France exposed five additional pedophile-protecting bishops still in office.

Pope Francis has no problem acting against people for reasons other than sex abuse.

He removed Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Raymond Burke from their Vatican positions. He removed Fra’ Matthew Festing as Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, a position equal in status to cardinal in the Catholic Church. He removed the “Bishop of Bling.”

He ordered that three priests be fired from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith without explanation. Although religious orders usually select their own superiors, the pope dismissed the head of the Order of the Franciscans of Immaculata.

Pope Francis excommunicated Fr. Greg Reynolds for advocating for women’s ordination. He excommunicated Martha Heizer, head of the reform international movement We Are Church, and her husband, Gert Heizer, for celebrating Mass in their home with a small group of friends.

This past June 10, Pope Francis gave priests in the Diocese of Ahiara, Nigeria, “30 days to write a letter promising obedience to him and accepting the bishop appointed for their diocese; priests who do not write will be suspended.” According to a press release issued July 3, “all priests have written their letter of apology to the pope.”  Fr. David Iheanacho  said that every priest complied because the pope doesn’t “joke around” with threats of sanction.

Unfortunately, Pope Francis doesn’t make a similar effort to save children’s lives.

________________

My previous blogs on Pope Francis and child sex abuse:

List of sexual predators protected by Pope Francis grows and grows.

Bishops still behaving badly on sex abuse as Pope Francis sets the example.

Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children!” Plea by “Spotlight” producer falls on deaf ears.

From the Vatican to Sicily, France, India, Australia and Mexico, a “Spotlight” should be on Pope Francis enabling clerical sex abuse.

Vatican autopsy on archbishop accused of sexual abuse coordinated by the same man who performed the disputed autopsy on two murdered Swiss guards.

Pope Francis defies UN on torturing children.

Sex abuse: Just another PR opportunity for Pope Francis.

 

Why the U.S. Catholic Church Has Lost More Members than Any Other Major Denomination

The downward trend in the number of Catholics is pretty familiar by now. In 2016, we were 18% of the population according to a recent PRRI report. In 2014, we were 21% and in 2007, 24% according to a Pew Religious Landscape Study.

The decline in non-Hispanic white Catholics is a bit steeper: 11% in 2016, 12% in 2014 and 16% in 2007.

Thirty six percent of Catholics are Hispanic; 9% are black, Asian and other. Hispanics are 52% of Catholics under the age of 30. The proportion of Hispanics is likely to increase because they have younger children and larger families, according to PRRI.

In 1990, native-born Catholics were 23% of the U.S. population and 87% were white, non-Hispanic.

“The largest decline among major religious groups” has occurred in the Catholic Church according to an earlier PRRI survey. “Nearly one-third (31.2%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (20.9%) Americans identify as Catholic currently.”

A 2014 Pew Research study found the same. “The greatest net losses [in the number of Americans claiming a religious affiliation] by far, have been experienced by Catholics. Nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic. Among that group, fully 41% no longer identify with Catholicism. This means that 12.9% of American adults are former Catholics.” Continue reading

Vatican Diplomat Recalled for Child Porn. Usual Media Whitewash Ensues

Yesterday, the AP reported: “A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.

“The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe and sought evidence from the U.S. The State Department said it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity on Aug. 21, and said the request was denied three days later. For the State Department to make such a request, its lawyers would have needed to be convinced that there was reasonable cause for criminal prosecution.”

All the reports that I’ve read got the above facts correct. But all the reports whitewashed the case of another Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, and Pope Francis’ lack of response to clerical sex abuse. Continue reading

Pope Francis in Colombia But the Issue is Venezuela. He has Helped Neither.

Pope Francis will arrive in Bogota on Sept. 6 and return to Rome on Sept. 10. Except for the Prayer Meeting for National Reconciliation commemorating the end of Colombia’s 52-year civil war, the pope’s scheduled itinerary was pretty ordinary:  meetings with government and Church officials; with priests and seminarians; a couple of public Masses and a visit to a Catholic charity.

However, on Aug. 24, a Colombian bishop announced that Pope Francis will also meet with members of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference. “It is important…to review the situation of the Venezuelan people,” Bishop Rigoberto Corredor said.

Venezuelans have been suffering through years of severe food and medical shortages, extreme inflation, daily protests. A UN report dated Aug. 30 said “Venezuelan security forces and pro-government groups are believed to be responsible for the deaths of 73 people since April … More than 1,000 people were believed to remain in custody as of July 31, among more than 5,000 detained in street protests since April. Detainees are often subjected to ill-treatment, in some documented cases amounting to torture.”

When the Venezuelan bishops had asked for a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome on June 8, their spokesman told journalists, “The pope has the moral strength to speak to governments and peoples, and we trust that there is an international mission, a help … the Holy See can do much to make light of our situation.”

But up until now, the first pope from Latin America has refused to become personally engaged in peace negotiations or to condemn Pres. Nicolas Maduro. Continue reading

Spadaro-Figueroa Article and the Media: Ad Majorem Francis Gloriam

The phrase Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – For the Greater Glory of God – is the motto of the Jesuits and their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. The point of Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Presbyterian pastor Marcelo Figueroa’s July 13 article in the Jesuit weekly, La Civiltà Cattolica, is the greater glory of Pope Francis. He is the “courageous” pontiff opposed to the “ecumenism of hate” formed by American “Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists.”

Spadaro is an Italian theologian and editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, the content of which is approved by the Vatican Secretariat of State. Spadaro’s book, Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet, was published in 2012. He built a website in the early ‘90s, then a blog, “was on Twitter in 2005 and Facebook pretty much as soon as it opened to the public,” he said in an interview.

Spadaro was contacted by Pope Francis shortly after his election. His  first interview with the pope eventually took place soon after “Who am I to judge,” taken out of context, made headlines and went viral. The comment by the pope in Spadaro’s interview that “It is not necessary to talk about abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods all the time,” extracted from a very lengthy interview,  also made headlines.

Spadaro did several more interviews with Pope Francis becoming his “mouthpiece” and one of his “trusted advisers.”

The Argentine Figueroa is a longtime friend of Pope Francis. The pope was not satisfied with the Spanish edition of the official Vatican newspaper,  L’Osservatore Romano, as directed by the Argentine Silvina Pérez, according to Vatican reporter, Sandro Magister. He wanted an edition just for Argentina to “promote direct access to [his] actions, gestures and texts,” wrote papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh.

In January, Pope Francis chose Figueroa, a radio-show host, to be director of the first national edition of the L’Osservatore Romano since it began publishing in 1861. As to contributors other than Pope Francis, “They don’t need to write solely on the pope’s thinking, but rather on themes related to his mission and which stem from his universal moral influence,” Figueroa said. Continue reading

Another Russian Connection: The Pope and Putin

The most powerful man in the Vatican after Pope Francis, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will make an “historic visit” to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of August “with the aim of improving Holy See relations both with the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.” The trip “will also pave the way for a potential visit by Pope Francis which some believe could happen as early as next year,” according to Vatican reporter Edward Pentin.

Pope Francis has met Putin twice at the Vatican in November 2013 and June 2015.

In February 2016, the pope made a stop at the José Martí airport in Havana on his way to Mexico for a meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. That meeting would not have happened “without a green light from Putin.”

Pope Francis said that Metropolitan Archbishop Hilarion, foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, “has come many times to speak with me.” Continue reading