An apocryphal story from the Middle Ages has Pope Innocent III showing Saint Francis the papal treasury, and saying, “Peter can no longer say silver and gold I have none.” Saint Francis responded, “And neither can Peter any longer say, “Stand and walk!”
From the beginning, with Judas pilfering from the common purse, money and Christ have gotten along poorly. Financial scandals at the Vatican are always the safest of predictions and two books being released underline that observation:
Yet two new books on the Vatican set for release on Thursday, advance copies of which were obtained by The Washington Post, point to a “black hole” in the St. Peter’s Pence fund and describe how only a small portion of the cash actually makes it to those who need it most. Rather, the books documenting lavish spending habits, mismanagement and a lack of accountability suggest the offerings are emblematic of larger problems within the ancient city-state in Italy. According to confidential files obtained by the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, rather than going to aid the poor, most of the cash is used to pay salaries and plug deficits at the Holy See.
The Vatican’s broader lack of transparency and mismanagement of finances, Nuzzi writes, so enraged Pope Francis shortly after the start of his papacy that he offered these stern words to a gathering of top members of the Roman Curia, the powerful bureaucracy of senior clerics that runs Vatican City:
The two tomes coming out this week rehash a hodgepodge of older scandals while also offering allegations of mismanagement, excess and resistance to change. They already have put the Holy See on the defensive, restoring a public relations war footing not seen in the Vatican since Francis arrived. On Monday, the Vatican announced the arrest of two insiders on suspicion of leaking internal information to the authors.
The allegations in the books suggest that a mix of formidable forces confront Francis as he seeks to reform a Vatican bureaucracy long shrouded in secrecy and charged for years with being inefficient and woefully lacking in transparency. They come as the pontiff is facing deep divisions between conservatives and liberals about the direction of his more inclusive papacy.
Go here to read the rest. Financial scandals are often seized upon opportunistically by the forces of heterodoxy as a club to belabor the Church. However that does not mean that orthodox Catholics should be blasé about such scandals. This is money stolen or wasted from the Faithful, often very poor members of the Faith contributing their Widow’s Mite. For too long there has been scandalously little financial oversite throughout the Church, creating a very large playground for thieves disguised as shepherds.