The Pope’s Treasure

“The Vatican, a 10 billion euro treasure – Investments in property, stocks, gold, hard currency,” is the title and lede of an article published last July by Italian journalist, Emiliano Fittipaldi, based on information obtained from one of the experts Pope Francis appointed to help him “reform” Vatican finance.

Pope Francis has verbally struck out against unfettered capitalism and the “idolatry of money.” Yet he has appointed immoral experts working on behalf of the global plutocracy to maintain and grow his treasure. He can do this without scruples because, like all bishops upon their elevation to cardinal, he swore to put the good of the Church above all else. “I, _____, of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal of _____, promise and swear from this hour hence as long as I live….to try in every way to assert, uphold, preserve, increase and promote the rights, even temporal, the liberty, honor, privileges and authority of the Holy Roman Church.”

After the Vatican’s last monarchical ally, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was defeated in World War I, Church leaders embraced fascism. Communism is atheistic and democracy is a dangerous ideology for prelates whose power depends on unquestioning obedience.

Since then, millions have suffered and died because the Church has protected, endorsed and provided financial support, services and cover to fascists and other right wing dictators, terrorists, politicians and financiers. The quid pro quo is that these secular leaders will advance the influence and wealth of the Church.

Pope Pius XI’s coffers were empty when Mussolini offered him the equivalent of a billion dollars in today’s money if the Catholic Church would enthusiastically back his dictatorship. More importantly, Il Duce also created a sovereign state placing the pope and his men outside and above all civil law.

Pius XI placed the windfall from his 1929 treaty with Mussolini in the hands of the financial genius, Bernardino Nogara. With the full knowledge of Popes Pius XI and XII, Nogara built an economic partnership with Mussolini and invested the pope’s money without regard to moral constraints such as a country’s culpability in World War II. So close was the Vatican to the Axis, the Allies intentionally fed the churchmen incorrect strategic information knowing it would reach the Italians and Germans. In addition to the Church’s direct involvement in the slaughter of Orthodox, Roma and Jewish Croatians, the Vatican’s investments and diplomatic support for the Axis made them participants in the deaths, misery and displacement of millions.[1]

“World War II also played a huge role in the creation of the Vatican Bank, as well as the unique power it held. As the Allies imposed restrictions on bank accounts, it became harder to move money around. Nogara created the bank, called the Institute for Religious Works (or IOR), in 1942 to avoid having financial transactions tracked through western banks. Because it resided in Vatican City, it was exempt from all wartime restrictions and became ‘the world’s best offshore bank.’”

“[T]he ultimate purpose was to give the IOR as much independence in financial dealings as possible, while at the same time protecting the Holy See [the legal and juridical name of the global Catholic government] from any unpleasant publicity that might be generated by such transaction, especially in the delicate and difficult wartime conditions.” (Pollard, Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy p 200)

After the Allies won, the Vatican established a new partnership with the bellicose U.S. military-industrial complex. Under the guise of anti-communism, the Vatican made their financial facilities and agencies available to right-wing dictators, terrorists, politicians
and intelligence agencies not only in post-war Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe but also Southeast Asia and Latin America.[2]

Pope John Paul II brought the Church’s alliance with plutocracy out into the open by appointing “culture warrior” bishops, including Jorge Mario Bergoglio, to oppose progressive government. He used his Church’s resources to support Latin American military dictatorships including the Argentine junta.”

Americans have been adversely affected by Vatican-connected corruption in a more direct financial manner also.

Richard Hammer’s The Vatican Connection “offers a remarkable account of a multimillion-dollar deal in counterfeit stocks and bonds between the Mafia and the Vatican of Pope Paul VI, focusing on the work of New York police detective Joseph Coffey whose investigation broke the case” in 1973.

Franklin National Bank on Long Island, New York, “was once the United States’ 20th largest bank. On October 8, 1974, it collapsed in obscure circumstances, involving Michele Sindona, renowned Mafia-banker and member of Propaganda Due” or P2. P2 was the clandestine shadow Italian government of politicians, terrorists, intelligence spooks, law enforcement officials and churchmen which actually ran the country. Sindona and P2 partnered with American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, head of the IOR. “Sindona used his influence in the Republican Party and the Nixon administration to ensure that his background did not inhibit his ability to become vice chairman and largest stockholder in the bank… It was at the time the largest bank failure in the history of the country.” The FDIC paid the depositors for their losses. Eventually the FDIC was able to sell Franklin assets but the American taxpayers were still owed $185.3 million in interest.

The Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company in Chicago was one of Nogara’s “correspondent banks,” i.e. a financial institution which provides services on behalf of another. The bulk of Vatican investments in the U.S. stock market were funneled through this bank. Sindona had been introduced to David Kennedy, Nixon’s first secretary of the treasury and chairman of the Continental by Marcinkus, who had been given a few days training in finance at the bank. Sindona in turn introduced two Spanish Opus Dei bankers to Kennedy who purchased for Continental an 18 percent interest in Banco Atlantico, an Opus Dei bank, through a Swiss company. Sindona also sold a 24 percent interest in his Milan bank to the Continental.[3]

While I don’t know if these transactions contributed to the Continental’s collapse, the connections are illustrative because Opus Dei is a secretive group of global plutocrats seeking hegemony under the auspices of the Catholic Church.

Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company, the nation’s eighth largest bank, required a government bailout in 1984. By 1991, Continental Illinois had been returned to the private sector, but U.S. taxpayers had suffered a $1.8 billion loss.

The Vatican’s availability for money-laundering was not lost on American convicted felon, Martin Frankel. Frankel bought seven small life insurance companies in order to steal their reserved assets. His scheme lasted from 1990 until his arrest in 1999. Because insurance companies are regulated by the states rather than the federal government, five state insurance commissioners, as guarantors, were forced to use 200 million tax-payer dollars to pay creditors, policyholders and shareholders for their losses suffered due to Frankel’s fraud. The commissioners brought a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) suit against the Holy See for laundering Frankel’s ill-gotten gains.

In the “factual allegation” section of their suit, the commissioners name six priests, one monsignor, one bishop, one archbishop and four cardinals (two of whom were former nuncios or ambassadors to the U.S.) who were consulted or participated in laundering the money in Frankel’s dummy St. Francis of Assisi Foundation to Serve and Help the Poor. Frankel paid “at least” $135,000 to several of these clerics and $100,000 to one cardinal for his “charitable causes.” Frankel’s money flowed through the IOR account of Msgr. Emilio Colagiovanni. (The monsignor pleaded guilty in Hinds County, Mississippi, to state criminal fraud charges in a separate action.)

Like all other legal actions by U.S. citizens against the Vatican – including three involving child sex abuse and one by survivors of the Croatian holocaust seeking return of their assets U.S. military records show were deposited in the IOR – the defense of “sovereign immunity” was raised and no further action has been taken, although

After 9/11, western financial regulators began to exercise oversight on states which failed to comply with international rules regarding the financing of terrorists and money laundering.

In September 2010, Italian financial authorities seized 23 million euros from two Vatican bank accounts held in Italian banks because the Holy See refused to disclose the source of these funds.

In March 2012, JPMorgan Chase closed an IOR account in Milan also because Vatican officials refused to provide its provenance. The JP Morgan account had been used to transfer 1.5 billion euro ($1.95 billion) within an 18 month period – and that’s just one Vatican bank account!

The IOR stopped doing business with Italian banks after the Bank of Italy (the country’s central bank) was forced to consider the IOR as a bank operating outside the EU regulations and “transferred much of its financial assets to Germany.”

A Vatican attorney complained: “’The IOR has financial relations with more than a hundred countries; it has banking ties with forty of these and has links with financial entities across the European Union. But as far as I can see it, only one of these countries treats the Vatican as unequal in terms of anti-money laundering.’ And that country is Italy.”

When the Vatican continued to refuse to cooperate, the Bank of Italy banned any banks operating in Italy from doing business with Vatican “until it cleans up its act.”

On January 1, 2013, “the Bank of Italy, which has placed the Vatican bank under intense scrutiny, blocked Deutsche Bank Italia from operating financial services at the Vatican, including the use of credit cards at its museums, after the Vatican failed to meet a Dec. 31 compliance deadline.” The Vatican began losing $40,000 a day in lost sales.

“We don’t have problems with other European countries. On the contrary, we have close collaboration. No other country in the world [except Italy] has adopted similar measures. I repeat, therefore, that I’m truly surprised,” said one Vatican official.

After a few months, the Vatican announced that it found a consortium in Switzerland, the Aduno Group, which does not belong to the European Union, to replace Deutsche Bank Italia.

Perhaps other national governments hadn’t taken direct action but, according to the Financial Times, regulators had required financial institutions to stop doing business in unregulated countries like the Vatican City State. One adviser to the Vatican told the FT that “the pursuit by prosecutors and regulators of the Vatican created a shift in mood among bankers to the Holy See. It was the bankers’ fear of being tarnished by their links with the Vatican Bank after the credit crisis – and fears of fines from emboldened regulators – that led them to take steps that forced [the Vatican] to clean up its act.”

“There’s also an imminently practical motive. If a state is perceived to be at risk for money laundering, its financial institutions – in this case, the Vatican Bank in particular – usually pay a price. Depositors may take their business elsewhere, worried about possible seizures of assets, while banks in other countries may impose higher transaction costs to cover more aggressive ‘due diligence’ measures. In general, a state’s ability to play the global financial game is impeded. In other words, it’s not just the Vatican’s moral capital at stake, but its dollars and euros too.”

That the IOR would be hampered in its ability to service the legitimate financial needs of dioceses and religious orders in Third World countries or areas where Christians are being persecuted, and the fact that the Vatican was losing revenue, the cardinal/electors would demand that a new pope must “reform” Vatican finances.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected

Launching an “anti-Italian” campaign to tarnish the leading papabile – motivated in part by the actions of Italian financial authorities against the Vatican – American cardinals in their role as adjuncts for the global plutocracy, successfully had their man, Jorge Mario Bergolio, elected. Within months, the new pope began hiring U.S. companies who advised the plutocrats. “At one stage, an Italian writer jokingly suggested relocating the Vatican from Rome to New York to save all those doyens of profit the commute.”

On June 13, 2013, the pontiff selected McKinsey & Co. “to design that reform of the curia which everyone expects from Pope Francis.”

“One of the market-leading ‘Big Three’ management consulting services to the Fortune 500 set, along with Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group,” in 2011, McKinsey used “questionable methodology and cherry-picked information” on a survey regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The results became “a useful tool for critics.” “Before its collapse, Enron was one of the firm’s biggest clients. McKinsey senior executives were among others convicted for insider trading. McKinsey & Co. has also provided the rationale used as “cover” for CEOs to justify layoffs and increasing their own pay.

Promontory Financial Group was hired by the pope at a cost of “well above seven digits”.

The hiring of Promontory by the Vatican “represented a triumph of the American on the [layman’s] board of the IOR, Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus” – who have “invested millions” in the Catholic Church’s war against women and gays – and the “American consortium led by Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells,” all Republicans. “Behind the moves of Promontory are not only the U.S. clergy who made a decisive contribution to Bergoglio’s election, but also some foreign financiers,” reported l’Espresso.

In the U.S., “Promontory’s activities focus heavily on the adept circumvention of regulations.…At a U.S. Federal Reserve foreclosure review meant to provide compensation to abused homeowners, whistleblowers from Bank of America came forward to provide compelling evidence that the bank and its independent consultant, Promontory Financial Group, attempted to suppress evidence that borrowers had been harmed by the false and deceptive practices of the mortgages lenders.”

In another advisory capacity, Promontory stated “’well over 99.9 percent’ of the loans issued by Standard Chartered bank complied with the law and only $14 million of them were illegal. Then the bank admitted that $250 billion of its deals, not $14 million, were illegal. That’s 17,000 times as much illegality as Promontory found in its ‘review.’”

When the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) asked banks to review their foreclosures, “Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and PNC picked Promontory to do the work for them….Nearly a year and a half into the process, the reviews, which cost banks a whopping $10,000 or more per loan file, had produced no relief payments to borrowers….Promontory and the other consultants involved in the program had received a combined $2 billion in misspent cash.”

Promontory’s main contribution to “cleaning up” Vatican finance was to close “around 2,600 dormant accounts and 400 customer relationships” some of whom had “already moved their money to a German bank.”

Depositors are now restricted to “Catholic institutions, clerics, Vatican employees or former employees with salary and pension accounts, as well as embassies and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.”

However, as we have seen, this is no guarantee the remaining depositors will not be used as “fronts” for illegal activities. “Despite the introduction of anti-money-laundering laws and the assurance given by Vatican Bank heads that it no longer holds any anonymous accounts, investigators found that dirty money can also pass through non anonymous accounts belonging to priests or clerics.”

The IOR produced its first public financial statements for the year 2013 showing deposits of $5.9 billion. Fifty million euros of its profits was given to the pope to do with as he pleases.

Like any bank, the IOR makes a profit by investing these deposits. In particular, the Vatican bank has always been active in bond and currency markets “and lots and lots of gold,” 22 thousand ounces according to the financial report. (At $1,190/ounce that comes to over $26 million). Fortune magazine, however, reported in August 2014 that the Vatican has $50 million in gold on deposit at the U.S. Federal Reserve meaning other Vatican departments also have assets in gold.

IOR investments include “tens of millions of euro in recent years to buy real estate and financial funds (especially in the U.S.).” In the 1990s, the bank purportedly had investments of “billions of dollars in foreign companies… in such industries as banking, insurance, chemicals, steel, construction and real estate.”

One of the IOR’s investment funds, the “Ad Maiora operation,” requires the Institute to make deposits in foreign investment funds in Luxembourg and Malta. As reported in November 2014, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) claimed that more than 300 companies, including Deutsche Bank AG (more on that late), “secured secret deals from Luxembourg to slash their tax bills. The companies appear to have channeled hundreds of billions of dollars through Luxembourg and saved billions of dollars in taxes.”

Promontory employees were appointed as IOR officials: Rolando Marranci as acting Deputy Director; Antonio Montaresi in the newly created position as acting Chief Risk Officer with the remit of overseeing compliance and special projects; Elizabeth McCaul and Raffaele Cosimo, as Senior Advisers.

The pontiff replaced the members of the Cardinal’s Commission of the IOR with his own men.

The pope also hired accountants Ernst & Young and KPMG.

Ernst & Young “has agreed to pay $99 million to former Lehman Brothers investors who have accused the auditor of helping Lehman misstate its financial records before the investment bank’s collapse triggered a financial crisis in 2008.”

“KPMG Facilitated the Financial Fiasco” – “Pioneers of mortgage debt securitization from Morgan Stanley and Black Rock set the stage for the financial crisis that severely disrupted the global economy. While these players and poor government policies have received much attention in recent years, auditors, such as KPMG International, enabled the crisis to metastasize at an accelerated rate. KPMG was the auditor for the key players in the mortgage crisis, including Fannie Mae, Countrywide Financial and New Century Mortgage.”

While any opposition to the pope’s financial “reform” is always portrayed in the media as coming from those corrupt, pre-Francis, Curia members, some of the above consultants have “seized Vatican secrets, with the possibility to raise infamous campaigns against the Vatican if things do not meet their expectations.” The same Vatican reporter added: “All of their proposals suffered from limitations when it came to understanding the inner nature of the Vatican. Which is not to generate revenues, but to preserve a sovereignty that is needed for the mission of the Church…. Who spun Pope Francis to fill the Holy See with consultants?”

Some might think that this type of professional expertise is necessary to manage a $10 billion treasury. But when the phrase “cleaning up” is endlessly repeated to describe this pope’s actions, forensic accountants working for Interpol or the FBI or one of the regulatory agencies could have been hired to actually sanitize the Augean Stables of Vatican money. Additionally, while the pope has exhorted others on numerous occasions to give more to charity, no one with expertise in large international charities, NGOs or non-profits has been hired.

Other Financial Institutions Used by the Vatican

While any IOR depositor can front for others for their own personal gain, the pope and his officials have other financial institutions to hide any transaction.

The Vatican maintains financial institutions in the Cayman and Turks and Caicos islands, both havens for off-shore tax shelters and other dubious activities. It was reported that the pope’s Cayman facility has clients which “include German arms dealers and criminal elements.”

La Stampa reported that Deutsche Bank became the IOR’s “main partner” after an inquiry by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Rome for breaking anti-money laundering laws, and that the IOR “now works almost exclusively with Deutsche Bank” implying that the German government will be more willing to look the other way than Italian officials.

In the early 1980s, John Paul II appointed Herman Abs to head a special counsel investigating the Ambrosiano scandal which included the hanging death of Roberto Calvi, head of the Banco Ambrosiano and member of P2, and Sindona’s poisoning in an Italian prison.

Abs was “personal banker of Hitler as head of the Deutsch Bank which played an important role in the economic despoliation of Nazi-occupied Europe.” Abs was also the Deutsche Bank’s representative on the board of I.G. Farben which manufactured the Zyklon-B gas used to exterminate Jews. “Two rabbis from the Wiesenthal Center of Holocaust Studies called a press conference and expressed dismay. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal prepared lengthy stories which were never printed. No one covered the story. Some rabbis granted an official audience [with the pope] were told not to discuss this as ‘the matter will take care of itself.’ It did not.” (Higham, American Swastika p xiv).

Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, ex No. 2 at Deutsche Bank, was appointed by Benedict XVI as the IOR’s interim president after Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was ousted for advocating too many reforms and too much transparency.

Recall that it was the Italian branch of Deutsche Bank, the only foreign bank operating inside the Vatican City State, which was shut down by the Bank of Italy.

Thirty days after his election, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Richard Marx as one of his Council of Cardinals, or C9, to be his closest advisers. The pope later appointed Marx as head of his Council on the Economy. Marx had been invited to address the members of Opus Dei who were holding a meeting held at Deutsche Bank.

After Francis’ election, Banco Santander offered to make itself available “at the Vatican’s disposition.” The bank is also a Vatican consultant.

It has been widely assumed that Pope John Paul II made Opus Dei the major power player in the Vatican and universal Church after they put up the $224 million the Vatican was forced to pay in compensation to Banco Ambrosiano creditors because the Vatican Bank was broke and no one else had this kind of money. Banco Santander is Opus Dei’s flagship financial institution. It is “a colossus with 10,000 branches which prides itself on having the most’ branches than any other bank in the world” and is “present mainly in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, those territories inhabited by tens of millions of Catholics.”

Americans are still being harmed by financial institutions with Vatican connections.

“Deutsche Bank was one of the major drivers of the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market during the housing credit bubble from 2004–2008, creating….The 2011 US Senate Permanent Select Committee on Investigations report on Wall Street and the Financial Crisis analyzed Deutsche Bank as a ‘case study’ of investment banking involvement in the mortgage bubble, CDO market, credit crunch, and recession.”

December 9, 2011: “Huge Eurobank, rated ‘Britain’s worst,’ now accused of gouging U.S. consumers.” “The defendant in a flurry of lawsuits is Europe’s largest bank, Banco Santander S.A., which is preparing to make a big push into U.S. retail banking.”

November 14, 2014: “The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs announced that it had issued subpoenas to two subsidiaries of the Spanish lender Banco Santander, which together represent one of the country’s largest originators of auto loans….The subprime auto lending industry is facing increased regulatory scrutiny. Critics say the industry takes advantage of vulnerable borrowers, who often have to pay steep rates for the loans.”

April 23, 2015: “Deutsche Bank has been fined $2.5bn (£1.66bn) by US and UK regulators for trying to manipulate interest rates. The German bank has been fined $2.1bn by US regulators, and £227m by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority….It is a record penalty for such misconduct because Deutsche tried to mislead regulators and could have hampered investigators.”

Cardinal George Pell

Pope Francis appointed Australian Cardinal George Pell to his C9 and then as his “tsar” in charge of Vatican finances. As creator of the “Melbourne Response” and the “Ellis Defense,” Pell’s only financial expertise was cheating clerical sex abuse victims out of a just compensation.

As archbishop of Melbourne, in 1996 Pell introduced a compensation scheme for sexual abuse victims. “According to many scholars and commentators, it was in fact, a system ‘designed to control the victims and protect the Church’… Pell intended to ‘minimize the crimes, conceal the truth, manipulate and intimidate the victims’…. Some relatives of abused children have called the cardinal a ‘sociopath.’”

The John Ellis case “was all about deterrence.” Ellis sued Pell and the Church trustees in 2006 over abuse he suffered as an altar boy in a Sydney parish. “Ellis lost and the case became legal history.”

“The Ellis case came to public prominence because the archdiocese and their lawyers decided to play hardball in the litigation, first by pleading that there was no relevant Church entity which could be sued, and second by contesting whether Ellis had actually been abused by (Fr Aidan) Duggan, even though the relevant Church authority had accepted that Ellis had been serially abused over some years. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse decided to investigate this case in part as an exemplar of litigation going wrong, causing further trauma for a victim of abuse.” Abuse survivors had testified to being re-traumatized by having to tell their stories to people whose prime motivations reflected Pell’s – protect the Church’s reputation and control payouts.

“Pell – who a few years ago was acquitted for lack of evidence against an accusation of molestation on a child of 12 years – answered questions at a royal commission hearing in August 2014 with a sentence which shocked the panel. Pell explained that the Church has no legal liability by comparing pedophile priests who abused children to truck drivers who molest hitchhikers: “I do not think that the transportation company may be responsible for the actions of its drivers.” Pell said. Pell told commission chair Peter McClellan his request for all papal documents relating to every abuse case involving an Australian cleric was “unreasonable” because they were “the internal workings of a sovereign state.”

After the pope dismissed the “Bishop of Bling” in October 2013, one Australian queried, “How is it that the maximum payout of victims of sexual abuse can hope to achieve through Cardinal Pell’s ‘Towards Healing’ process is $75,000 yet the Church can find as much as $30 million to acquire a property in Rome?” The reference was to Pell’s approving “$30 million – though one estimate goes as high as $85 million” to purchase “a guest house, with a 150-seat auditorium, and includes a private apartment for Cardinal Pell.”

As a result of Pell’s strategies, “Sydney’s Catholic Archdiocese, thought to be the richest in the country, controls funds with assets of $1.24 billion…according to evidence at the child sex abuse royal commission….Since Pell’s appointment as archbishop in 2001, the archdiocese has received 204 claims and paid out just under $8 million to victims of child sexual assault, the commission has been told….The archdiocese’s business manager, Danny Casey, said the funds are ‘ultimately controlled by – owned by, if you like – the archbishop of the day.’”

Pell established a Project Management Office (PMO) in the Vatican headed by Casey “to implement and introduce some of the proposed changes” beginning with transferring control of the “ordinary section” of Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) to the PMO. This puts Casey in charge of all Vatican purchasing, routine expenditures, payroll and
its vast real estate holdings.

According to Fittipaldi, much of the property acquired by Nogara is still owned by the Vatican. Holding companies for commercial properties in London, Paris and Switzerland; “houses and apartments spread across Europe in 2013 have reached a total value of 342 million euro….” Rental income was 23.5 euro in 2011. The Vatican “made a profit of £33 million in 2004/5 from the sale of various buildings.”

Reports vary as to the Church’s Italian property, although not necessarily owned by the Vatican. “The Catholic Church owns about 100,000 properties in Italy, a third of which are commercial”; another report, “110,000 properties, worth about 9bn euros,” of which “there are 3,300 hotels run by religious bodies, which have an annual turnover of £3 billion.”

Pell has been described “spiritual adviser” to Australia’s rightwing PM Tony Abbott or “Abbott’s Thomas Wolsey, scheming, power-mad, and cares not at all for the victims of the Catholic Church,”
and as “one of the three most influential people in Abbott’s political life.” Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News channel, is named as one of the other two. Fox News Rome correspondent and member of Opus Dei, Greg Burke, is one the pope’s top media advisers.

The week before Pope Francis named Pell to his C9, Pell attended a “gala dinner of the ultra conservative Institute of Public Affairs, which openly boasts about its political influence, which in truth is its raison d’être. This is not an inexplicable coincidence…The guest of honor and keynote speaker was Rupert Murdoch…”

Pell’s appointment as financial “tsar” prompted this tweet from Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch): “Pope Francis appoints brilliant Cardinal Pell from Sydney to be no. 3 power in Vatican. Australia will miss him but world will benefit.” (No. 2 is head of the C9, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, “some might say vice pope.” “Opus Dei participated actively in the [2009] coup against constitutional President Manuel Zelaya, said a study ….Opus Dei is headed by Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez who has not denounced the violation to the Constitution that the coup was, and has instead blessed it.”)

After his promotion to archbishop, Pell invited Opus Dei to establish themselves in Melbourne and then Sydney. Under Pell’s patronage, “Opus Dei‘s star is on the rise” a columnist wrote in 2002. This reporter saw “signs of a new elitism….a clerical culture is being encouraged in which there is a highly select ‘in’ crowd around Pell.”

Pell’s Men

Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, former CEO of Invesco’s European operations, was named as head of the IOR and Maltese Joseph F. X. Zahra as vice-coordinator of the new Council for the Economy. Both are reported as Pell’s “two right-hand men,”
allies” or have “ties” to Pell

De Franssu’s son, Louis-Victor Douville de Franssu, is now working for Promontory but previously as an intern in the government-affairs division of Goldman Sachs in London. Goldman Sachs is termed the “Vampire Squid” by Rolling Stone for “buying up [heavy industry] and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever.” The prelate of Wall Street, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, recently appeared on the Goldman Sachs You Tube channel along with Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman CEO Goldman Sachs.

Under de Franssu, “the IOR will shift more of its 6 billion euros ($8.2 billion) in client funds into asset-management products”
under de Franssu’s direction.

Zahra is currently chairman of Middlesea Insurance Co Ltd. MAPFRE, “the leading insurance company in Spain and the largest non-life insurance company in Latin America” owns a controlling interest in Middlesea. MAPFRE is referred to in the insurance market as a branch of Opus Dei.

Pell added the following members to the layman’s board of the IOR:
Mauricio Larrain is external director of Santander Bank Group Chile and general director of Opus Dei’s ESE Business School at Los Andes University of Chile.
Mary Ann Glendon is the Catholic theocons’ token female and member of the board of too many right-wing organizations to mention; also Bush 43’s ambassador to the Holy See. Glendon described Bush’s invasion of Iraq a “humanitarian intervention. Of course, that wasn’t the precise issue.”
Clemens Boersig, ex-chairman of Deutsche Bank, along with four other bank executives were ordered in March 2015 to stand trial on fraud charges in Germany.
Sir Michael Hintze, former Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse executive,” is an Australian-born hedge fund billionaire. He’s also a major Tory party donor, despite falling out with David Cameron over gay marriage.”

George Yeo, former finance minister of Singapore and a Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces is a member of the Vatican Council of the Economy. He is on the advisory board of Harvard Business School and Opus Dei’s most important graduate business school, IESE.

Msgr. Brian E. Ferme, who holds a doctorate from Oxford, was appointed prelate secretary of the Council for the Economy by his “strong backer,” Cardinal George Pell. His background includes overseeing the financial management of the now-closed Marcianum,
a center of international studies whose “faculty was assimilated to the Pontifical Holy Cross University, based in Rome and owned by Opus Dei.”


The “extraordinary section” of Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See manages the Vatican’s investment portfolio. Per Fittipaldi: “APSA also controls companies such as Sirea Leonina which has over 16 million euro in assets, has 187 million euro in currencies, 32,232 ounces in bullion and 3,122 ounces of gold coins (worth 30.8 million euro) in Switzerland and England.”

Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, an APSA accountant, was arrested in July 2013 for using his IOR accounts “as a front for suspicious payments made through the Vatican Bank from Monaco [and] to make transfers on behalf of his friends including an attempt to move 20 million euros ($26 million) on behalf of a Neapolitan shipowning family.”

Scarano testified that “APSA played on the stock market, bought shares and bonds and managed millions of euros on behalf of lay clients, to whom it offered better interest rates than the IOR.
‘We were a bank in a dirty way,’ he told prosecutors, adding that APSA held up to €700m in liquid assets. APSA relied on a number of private banks, mainly headquartered in the U.S., to operate on the market, Scarano said. It was these banks that, in turn, made lavish gifts to APSA’s senior officials.”

Peter Sutherland was appointed by Pope Francis as an adviser to APSA. Sutherland is managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, advisory director of Goldman Sachs Group, former chairman of BP Oil and European chairman of the Trilateral Commission. He is also on the advisory board of IESE. Sutherland is also former chairman of AIB (Allied Irish Banks).

AIB loans of up to $500 million were extended to four American dioceses in 2005-07 which had claimed bankruptcy due to clerical sex abuse claims. According to the Irish Daily Mail in 2011, the loans are being repaid “from an unknown source.”

Some of the Vatican documents released to the press in 2012 – known as the “Vatileaks” affair – showed “tens of millions of dollars in transfers to American dioceses to help them pay legal settlements relating to the abuse of children by priests.”

Other Vatican Departments

If all the departments (dicasteries, congregations, councils, tribunals, councils) are added to the 46 foundations and nonprofit organizations with offices at the Vatican, they would total close to 80. Each has its own assets. In 2010, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (formerly Propaganda Fide) reportedly held real estate worth 9 billion euro.

The Governorate of the Vatican City State is responsible for running the tourist attractions – the museums, shops and other public areas – as well as employing thousands to maintain the city state. The governorate used to publish annual financial accounts but hasn’t since 2011 when the Vatican Museums produced revenue of 91.3 million euro. The Peter’s Pence collection (offerings collected by bishops from Catholics around the world) was $69.7 million that year.

“The Holy See actually acquires most of its operating budget from Catholic foundations around the world; last year, donations from Catholic foundations raised $85 million,” stated the Wall Street Journal.

Pell showed extraordinary ignorance about Vatican finance when he boasted that he “discovered…some hundreds of millions of euros tucked away in particular sectional accounts [which] did not appear on the balance sheet.” An embarrassed Vatican spokesman had to explain “that the consolidated balances of the Holy See and the Vatican City State [which have not been disclosed to the public during this pontificate] did not in any way encompass the whole of the numerous administrations that are headed by the Vatican, but only the principal institutions of the Curia and the State.” For example, “a fund administered by the Secretariat of State is used in cases of emergency.”

In February 2015, Pell announced that the Vatican’s “total assets stand at around $3.2 billion.” Believe it or not.

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009)

[1] Pollard, Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850-1950. Phayer, Pius XII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Kerttzer, The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe.

[2] Lernoux, People of God. Loftus and Aarons, Unholy Trinity. Nuzzi, Vaticano S.p.A. Battista, Paradiso IOR. Lee, “Their Will be Done” Mother Jones July/August 1983 Issue.

[3] Yallop, In God’s Name. Williams, The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia. Hutchison, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei.


4 Responses

    • For the same purpose anyone or non-profit organization accumulates great wealth i.e. to increase power.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: