Nothing quite matches Orwell naming his fictitious agency of disinformation the “Ministry of Truth” as the Catholic Church naming its bank the “Institute of Religious Works.” The bank, in its current configuration, was insituted in 1942 by Pope Pius XII for the alleged purpose of “works of religion or charity.” However, based upon a 1998 US State Department report on the destination of Nazi plunder according to “contemporaneous documents authored by Allied investigators” and “the sworn testimony of former US Special Agent William Gowen, who interviewed and investigated the Ustasha involved in transferring the loot while stationed in Rome after the war,” gold and other valuables stolen in the genocidal murder of 500,000 Serbs, Jews and gypsies were deposited at the Vatican in 1946 by the Ustasha, the Nazi-backed regime of wartime Croatia. “The Vatican repeatedly denied the charges and the findings of the 1998 US report.”
A US lawsuit was first filed in 1999 against the Holy See by the Holocaust survivors and their heirs to recover their property one year after an official Swiss commission concluded that Switzerland received three times more gold taken from Nazi victims than previously estimated by the US government. That same year, UBS AG and Credit Suisse AG, the biggest Swiss banks, agreed to pay $1.25 billion in compensation to the survivors and their heirs….
The US case, which sought as much as $2 billion in restitution, was dismissed in December 2009 by a US appeals court in San Francisco on grounds that the Vatican Bank enjoyed immunity under the 1976 Foreign Service Immunities Act, which may prevent foreign governments from facing lawsuits in the US.
“We looked at all the places where the Vatican may have surrendered sovereignty,” attorney Jonathan Levy said in a telephone interview. “The only place we could find was with the euro, where they placed themselves under the jurisdiction of either the European Central Bank or the European Commission.”
According to Levy who represented the Holocaust survivors in the US courts, the Vatican, in a departure from its usual policy, agreed to place itself under the jurisdiction of the European Union in order to obtain the right to coin Euros. “Under its agreement with the EU commission, the Vatican City State may issue a maximum of 2.3 million euros in coins in 2010 through the Italian mint, not including a further variable amount. It is presumed the European Central Bank would frown upon the possibility that concentration camp gold might be used to finance or mint Euro coins.”
Levy argues that “the European Commission should have the authority to probe the IOR. Under the agreement between the Vatican and the EU signed on Dec. 17, 2009, the Vatican pledged to implement EU laws against money laundering, counterfeiting and fraud, in return for using the euro as legal tender within the Vatican City State.”
“We are requesting the commission open an inquiry into allegations of money laundering of Holocaust victim assets by financial organs associated with or which are agencies of the Vatican City State,” Levy wrote in a letter dated Oct. 20 to Olli Rehn, the European Union’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner. Amadeu Altafaj, Rehn’s spokesman, said in Brussels on Oct. 26 that the commission had received Levy’s letter and contacted Vatican authorities about it. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi declined to comment on Levy’s request to the commission.
The Associate Press posted an article today (Oct. 30) titled “Prosecutors Doubt Vatican Money-Laundering Pledges” which about says it all. In addition to the agreement signed in December 2009:
Vatican bank officials had two meetings starting in the spring of this year with officials from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to learn how to get on the “white list,” of countries that share tax information to crack down on tax havens, said Jeffrey Owens, head of tax issues at the OECD. To join the OECD’s club, the Vatican must first make a formal commitment to transparency and exchange of financial information and then take part in peer review sessions. To get on the “white list” the Vatican must enter into tax information sharing agreements with at least 12 other countries….
Vatican bank officials in recent weeks made a written commitment to the Financial Action Task Force – the Paris-based policymaking body that develops anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing legislation – to do whatever is necessary to come into compliance with its norms, a senior FATF official familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday.
Separately, on Oct. 15, Vatican bank officials met with European Commission officials and agreed that Pope Benedict XVI would act to bring into Vatican law EU directives on money laundering that are required of euro-zone countries, said Amadeu Altafaji Tardio, spokesman for European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn….
Despite such efforts – which predate the seizure of the Vatican account – prosecutors have said the Vatican has done nothing concrete to comply with Italian law, to which it is subject, much less international norms to fight money laundering. In an October court document, prosecutors said such compliance “doesn’t even seem possible” given the lack of internal norms at the Vatican.
While we’re on the subject of the Vatican bank and money laundering, those of you who read my article “What is the Vatican REALLY Like?” may remember the name of Fr. Brian Farrell as one of the Secretariat of State officials who met with attorney Thomas Bolan and Fr. Jacobs on one of their trips to Rome to help Martin Frankel launder his fraudulently obtained money through the IOR.
On Oct. 24, Cardinal-elect Velasio De Paolis announced the names of four advisors selected to help him “reorganize” the Legionaries of Christ and one of them is the now-Bishop Brian Farrell LC, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The reorganization of the LC is being presented as solely concerned with the order’s “charism for evangelization,” but before his appointment as the new head of the LC was announced on July 9, De Paolis held the position of President of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See. And that, we can be sure, had nothing to do with the fact that the LC has a holding company, the Grupo Integer, with assets totaling an estimated 25 billion euros.
On Oct. 26, the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, called on the World Health Organization to send aid to Haiti to stop a recent outbreak of cholera in the country. According to the Miami archdiocesan newspaper, “nearly half of the worldwide total collected for Haiti was raised by the Catholic Church in the United States.” Aid was also provided by international Catholic charities. What happened to all the aid sent from Catholic sources?
From Sept. 22 through Sept. 26, bishops from Haiti, the US, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France and Germany, as well as representatives of the Holy See, met in Miami to organize the work of reconstructing churches and seminaries using monies donated by Catholic relief organizations and the Inter-American Development Bank. “In the meantime, the Haitian Church ‘is doing what it can with temporary structures,’ said Richard Balmadier, who helped draft the plan. Balmadier is the special assistant for Haiti for Catholic Relief Services, the US bishops’ international relief agency.” According to Fr. Andrew Small, who works in the US bishops’ Office of National Collections, the American Church alone has set aside approximately $32 million for Church reconstruction projects in Haiti.
At the opening of this international bishops’ meeting convened to decide how to spend unspecified millions of relief dollars on ecclesial buildings, Ministry of Truth Archbishop Thomas Wenski gave a homily, “…We must recognize Christ in the poorest and the most marginalized, those whom the Eucharist – which is communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us – commits us to serve…..God takes the side of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized – through the works of mercy, we take their side too.”
Also on Oct. 26, while the Cuban people are suffering through their worst economic crisis since the 1959 revolution, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that “members of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America will travel to Cuba November 3-6, for the opening of the new seminary located 30 miles outside of Havana. The building will be able to house 100 candidates for the priesthood. The USCCB delegation will be led by subcommittee member Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, as well as Fr. Andrew Small, National Collections Office director for the Church in Latin America, and local clergy from the Archdiocese of Miami.”
Fr. Charles Curran has been a lightning rod for Catholic rightwing denunciation ever since he and a group of 600 other moral theologians wrote a response to the Humanae Vitae encyclical in 1968 challenging its conclusions concerning artificial contraception. Curran became a particular target of the John Paul II regime for asserting the same primacy of conscience while generally accepting the teaching Magisterium of the Church as the recently beatified English Cardinal John Henry Newman. Curran was finally removed from his position at the Catholic University of America in 1986. In 1991, he was offered the Elizabeth Scurlock Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University in Dallas where he has been teaching ever since.
According to an article in the National Catholic Reporter:
SMU announced a Curran lecture scheduled for Oct. 28 titled: “The US Catholic Bishops and Abortion Legislation: A Critique from Within the Church.” The university release stated, “Curran’s lecture will examine how the bishops have made opposition to legal abortion their primary social issue, and will challenge the bishops from a theological perspective for claiming too much certitude in their position.”
Bishop Kevin Farrell reacted immediately, reciting the “constant teaching of the church” and expressing his regrets that “Father Curran has chosen to criticize the position of the bishops of the United States on this matter.”
Curran took issue with Farrell’s characterization: “This paper is not about the Catholic moral teaching on abortion,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “In fact, the paper accepts the Catholic moral teaching that direct abortion is always wrong. The paper deals solely with abortion law and argues that one who holds the Catholic moral teaching can come to different conclusions about what the law should be.”
Curran, in a phone interview with NCR’s Tom Roberts, termed the bishop’s statement “reckless and totally false. It should never have been made. I am owed a public apology.” He said “he first found out about the statement when he went to liturgy Sunday at SMU and the bishop’s printed comments were being passed out to those attending Mass. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Dallas said the bishop had not contacted Curran to find out what the lecture would be about before he issued his statement.” (emphasis added)
Declaring that the Church exists in order to evangelize, Pope Benedict XVI announced on Oct 24 that the Church must work “to welcome every man and offer him in Christ the fullness of life.” He invited all to “look at the Church as a mystery of communion that, by its nature, is destined to all men.” He explained that “in every time and every place the Church is present and works to welcome every man and offer him in Christ the fullness of life.”
OK, besides the obvious affront to half of the human race, the pope really didn’t mean everyone or every man for that matter. On the same day, San Antonio’s axiliary bishop, Oscar Cantu, ordered that the weekly masses organized by Dignity – an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics – and held for the past 15 years at St. Ann’s, would no longer be allowed. Deacon Pat Rogers, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, said that the mass was banned due to “The fact that this was an advocacy group that represented publicly and in their own way, a position that was outside of Catholic teaching in regards to homosexuality.” What he meant to say was “outside current Catholic teaching.”
In the mid-1970s, the Catholic Church recognized the difference between being homosexual and engaging in homogenital (same-sex) acts. The Catholic Church holds that, as a state beyond a person’s choice, being homosexual is not wrong or sinful in itself. But just as it is objectively wrong for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sex, so too are homosexual acts considered to be wrong.
The Church also taught understanding and compassion toward gay and lesbian people. In their 1976 statement, To Live in Christ Jesus, the American bishops wrote, “Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.… The Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care.” In 1990, the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops repeated this teaching in their instruction, Human Sexuality.
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