PopeWatch: Vatican Bank

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       And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.

Luke 16:8

The Church has had trouble managing money since Judas was treasurer and helped himself to the contents of the purse. The Institute for the Works of Religion, universally known as the Vatican Bank, was founded in June of 1942 by Pope Pius XII.  Since 1968 “scandal” and “Vatican Bank” have gone together like bread and butter.  Pope Francis is trying to change that:

Pope Francis shook up the scandal-plagued Vatican bank on Wednesday, removing four of five cardinals from an oversight body in a break with the clerical financial establishment he inherited from his predecessor.

It was his latest move to get to grips with an institution that has often been an embarrassment for the Holy See and which he has vowed to either reform or close. The four cardinals were removed just 11 months into their five-year terms as commissioners, which began under former Pope Benedict, who resigned last February.

The changes came as Francis approached the first anniversary of a pontificate marked by austerity and sobriety, underlined by his decision to give up the papal apartments in favour of a modest suite.

The new team includes two cardinals – Toronto’s Christopher Collins and Vienna’s Christoph Schoenborn – from relatively rich dioceses who have had extensive dealings with financial affairs. The others are Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s new secretary of state, who will be elevated to the rank of cardinal next month, and Santos Abril y Castillo, a Spaniard who is based in Rome and is a close friend of the pope’s.

The one holdover was French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The four who were not re-confirmed included the former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Commentators and some church officials blamed him for lax oversight that led to a spate of scandals during Benedict’s pontificate, including the leaking of some of the pope’s personal documents by Benedict’s butler.

Bertone has defended his record saying he was the victim of “anonymous accusations and rumour mongering”. Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, head of another Vatican financial department that Italian magistrates suspect of financial irregularities and which the Vatican has asked an outside firm to audit, was also removed.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch wishes the Pope well in this effort, but is not optimistic.  High ecclesiastics, even when personally completely honest, seem to be incapable of keeping close rein on a large financial operation without the thieves coming out to play.  Christ, as always, knew what He was doing when He chased the money changers from the Temple.

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  1. Vienna’s Christof Schoenborn revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which then had to be revised in two years. He was responsible for the death penalty being “practically non-existent”.

  2. Howze about Pope Francis hires a professional banking staff and promises them, if they rip off the Church, a closed door meeting with the Swiss Guards.

    Just kidding.

    Bank internal controls and routines are not complicated. Segregation of duties, dual control, mandatory two-week vacations, duties rotations, multiple layers for cash/transactions approvals, cash counts, reconciliations, internal audits, etc.

    Hey! The Vatican Bank, with all its scandals and bad press, bank has caused little or no damage to anyone; but it ratified the bad impressions held by certain people.

    OTOH since late 2008, Euro zone banks have cost their citizens (of almost every European country) billions of euros and led to the hated “austerity.”

    Case in point: to assure that no bondholder of an Irish bank lost a euro, the Irish people have been saddled with new debt of 85 billion euros.

    That’s what they get for surrendering their sovereignty to hordes of European Central Bank (ECB) uber-bureaucrats reigning from Brussels, or wherever.

  3. What Dodd and Frank did to the US banking system makes the Vatican Bank look like a piggybank with a crack in it.

    (….waiting for Steve Barrett to defend Frank and Dodd and bad mouth the GOP….)

  4. Bertone is nearly 80 now, a friend I think of B16, and the author of a book about the Third Secret of Fatima. some Italian journalists think the whole truth hasn’t been told about the 3rd secret. With that and the Bank he has been through a lot. B16 stood by him when the bank was questioned. I wonder if Pope Francis let him off to do him the favor of getting a rest.

  5. Mary De Voe,

    A very slight correction. Cardinal Schoenborn was the chief editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church from start to finish. The newer version two years later was necessitated by the continued voluminous writing of Blessed John Paul II, especially in the area of life [Evangelium Vitae, etc]. It is true that the second edition contained an even more aggressive stance against the death penalty-but that was due to the magisterial level teaching of Pope John Paul and not the Cardinal.

    There are other criticisms etc that could be lodged against the Cardinal but I just wanted to set the record straight.

  6. Botolph: It was the first presentation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that had the phrase “practically non-existent” referring to the death penalty. That phrase was expunged in the revised edition two years later. I realize that Pope John Paul II had his say in the first edition. As a priest of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II can forgive my murderer, but only when the murderer repents in the Sacrament of Penance. Pope John Paul II can offer forgiveness through the church. “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them. Whose sins you shall retain they are retained” I am thinking that the Pope can only forgive to the degree that the victim forgives, other wise, the free will of the victim is violated, and Justice is not done by a wholesale blanket forgiveness without individual repentance.
    While Pope John Paul II was in St. Louis having the death sentence of a death row inmate commuted to life in prison, a death row inmate in Arkansas escaped and killed a man and the man’s five year old son for a truck to escape. In any subsequent murders of prison guards or wardens or people, John Paul II becomes an enabler, an accessory before the fact, if the death sentence is not carried out because of the Pope’s action.
    “Lastly, he, (the Pope) is tied up and limited by that doctrine, divinely revealed, which affirms that alongside religious society there is civil society, that alongside the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy there is the power of temporal Magistrates, invested in their own domain with a full sovereignty, and to whom we owe in conscience obedience and respect in all things morally permitted, and belonging to the domain of civil society.” John Henry Cardinal Newman
    ” “But when a man kills another after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar (compassion, mercy) and put him to death.” Exodus 21:14
    Thomas Aquinas reiterates the death penalty, but I do not know where.
    Since atheism has removed the petition to God before sentencing and capital punishment may not be practiced justly, nevertheless, capital punishment remains just and necessary. The only way to end capital punishment is to end homicide.
    While it is true that John Paul II was the writing behind this issue, Schoenborn was to have taken issue with it. He did not. Perhaps he could not.
    I am sadly familiar with the criticisms lodged against Schoenborn…

  7. Mary De Voe,

    You are absolutely correct. Blessed Pope John Paul II in his emphasis on the sanctity of human life saw that modern society was able to protect its citizens with other mean than capital punishment and thus really pushed ALMOST to the point of completely prohibiting its use [I emphasize this as the issue because there are other ideological ‘reasons’ which are not morally sufficient to curtail or end capital punishment]

    This stunned many, including some Catholics. The then Cardinal Ratzinger made a necessary distinction that needs to be kept in mind. When working on the same moral principle: in this case ‘the respect for human life’, it is possible to arrive at two differing views on such issues as capital punishment [a related issue would be war/just war etc. But I am not going to get into that here].

    Bottom line, a Catholic who believes in and works toward an ethic which respects each and every human life from the moment of conception until natural death can believe and work for
    a) the end of the death penalty
    b) the preservation of the death penalty

    From your writing here I would surmise that your very obvious pro-life principles have brought you to seek the preservation of the death penalty [if I am reading you correctly]
    I, on the other hand, believing in the very same principles do not see the necessity in our day and age of any use of capital punishment. While by no means as vociferous about ‘the death penalty’ as I am about ending abortion, preventing doctor assisted suicide, euthanasia etc, am still against its use

    Now, we witness how complex not only the world is, but just how much we need the guidance of the Church because in other circumstances perhaps both of us would call the other wrong [which Ratzinger says we cannot] and get into a verbal debate etc.

    Truth in charity lived in communion-not easy. In fact, the Cross is at the center of it all.

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