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Priest tries to broker Balkan arms deal

In November 2008, a London-based friar of the Franciscans of the Atonement, Fr. Michael Seed, using “American corporate strategist” Kalman Sporn as a go-between, approached Israeli arms dealer, Hezi Bezalel, promising Bezalel that he could arrange introductions to “influential Balkan politicians” including “the man who looks after all arms for the region.” Seed said this arms trader was a friend of Archbishop Eugenio Sbarbaro, the papal nuncio to Belgrade, who would handle the introductions. The cost to Bezalel would be a contribution to Sbarbaro’s charity.

As reported in yesterday’s London Daily Mail,  an email written by Sporn stated:

If you Hezi Bezalel make a sizeable contribution to the charitable efforts of His Excellency Eugenio Sbarbaro in Belgrade; then on a diplomatic level you will be introduced to certain heads of state in both [sic] Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia. A sizeable contribution is more than $75,000 [£47,000]. The Vatican can open certain doors for you….

Mr Sporn tried again soon after. Accusing Mr Bezalel of being “short-sighted”, he told him: “Within days you could be sitting with the Presidents of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro selling them technologies they want and need. To achieve direct access… surely 75,000 is a small fee.”

Later that day, Mr Bezalel replied by email: “I don’t like this approach. When I give to charity it’s because I want to and not under instruction. I’m trying to be as polite as possible. So please let’s forget about it.”

According to the Mail, Bezalel now has many other business interests. Sporn told the reporter, “Hezi was involved in the arms trade but for five years he has been a distributor for security technology for software companies.”

Other details provided in the article are also worthy of note.

Further illustrating the international scope of the Catholic Church, Fr. Seed met Archbishop Sbarbaro while Seed was a student in the early 1980s at the Catholic University of America located in Washington D.C. and Sbarbaro was the charge d’affaires at the Vatican embassy. Seed is currently honorary chaplain to the International Committee on Human Dignity based at the European Parliament in Brussels.

In January 2011, the archbishop flew to London to help Seed celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination. Party guests included “millionaire benefactors who had flown in by private jet.” Seed said he lives for free in a London flat owned by Gregory King, a Scottish corporate money lender whose fortune is estimated at £200 million.

The Mail noted that Seed, “who regularly celebrated Mass for Tony Blair [recent Catholic convert and Bush ally in invading Iraq],” has many well-connected friends. Among them is Xuelin Black, a Chinese national “developing business and political interests” in London and also an advisor to Lord Wei, appointed by  who Tory Prime Minister Cameron as head of the British equivalent  of the U.S. Faith Based and  Neighborhood Partnerships. Black accepted a check from Seed for £34,000 drawn from his religious order’s charity bank account and later deposited the money into Seed’s personal account.

____

The only remarkable part of the above news article that a priest with rich friends and Tory connections, along with a papal nuncio, would be involved in an attempted arms trade in a politically unstable part of the world  is that it was found out and reported. History tells us that cooperation among Catholic officials, big money and rightwing politicos  has produced not only scandals but the deaths of millions.

Demonstrating the power of this cabal, even a Pulitzer-prize-winner Seymour Hirsch, a respected investigative reporter who exposed the My Lai Massacre during Vietnam and who published some of the earliest pieces on Abu Ghraib in May 2004, was vilified in January for being “conspiratorial” when he noted the ties between members of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command and two organizations of wealthy rightwing Catholics (Knights of Malta and Opus Dei). 

During the past three decades this cabal has successfully helped to shift 90 percent of the wealth of the United States into the pockets of the top five percent of its citizens. Now they’re after Social Security and workers’ rights.  Will we ever learn before its too late?

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3 Responses

  1. I swear to God Betty, all of this kind of thing is precisely why the Vatican wants direct control of Caritas Internationales. Caritas represents too many potential deals with too many third world leaders and a ton of access to information to sell to Western Intelligence agencies.

    I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but connecting dots in so many situations leads to the same end points.

    • You are so right, Colleen. It’s not a conspriacy
      “theory” when this kind of stuff keeps popping up. I agree with you that leadership of Caritas Internationalis was changed so the the Vatican has more control of where and how that money gets spent. More “big money” donors will now be assured their donations will go towards their geopolitical causes. (P.S. I’ve been out of town so haven’t had the chance to respond sooner.) Betty

  2. Heya i am for the primary time here. I found this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to give something again and help others such as you aided me.

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