|Mary Ann Glendon is one Catholic woman who has been given a real chance to do some serious cleaning in the Vatican halls. Differences aside, I hope she does a thorough cleaning.|
Some other stories this week that grabbed my attention involve the Vatican Bank and other Vatican financial interests. First off Pope Francis has put together a group of five people to serve as an independent investigative board answerable only to him. It includes two Americans, one of which is Mary Ann Glendon who was a former ambassador to the Holy See under GW Bush. She also has very close ties to American Catholic neocons, being considered one of them her very self. The other American is Monsignor Peter Wells, who holds the third ranking position in the Secretary of State.
According to John Allen, this commission has been given very broad powers over all Vatican financial operations with the mission to insure that these fiscal operations are compatible with the Gospel and the Christian message. Just as the Vatican announces this development, Italian police and financial authorities arrested the Vatican's head of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See, Msgr Nunzio Scarano, for two separate fraudulent activities, one involving the importation of 20+ million Euros into Italy from Switzerland on an Italian State jet in a supposed effort to recover monies invested by three brothers from an Italian family of shipping magnates. The money was invested with an Italian broker who then reneged on the whole deal. The broker and the Italian Security Agent who was hired to carry the money in from Switzerland, have also been arrested. See here.
The Monsignor's second offense involved donations to build a home for the elderly in Salerno. These donations were then given to friends and family--fifty of them-- to turn around into money orders for the good Monsignor to use to pay off the debt on his own personal estate. It seems in this particular case, money laundering at the Vatican also includes laundering lay donations into personal accounts--over 500,000 Eu. One of those personal accounts Scarano holds is with the Vatican Bank, although as of now, that account is not under scrutiny, many of those donations flowed in and out of that account and into Scarano's account in Salerno via those money orders from his 'friends'. See here.
This is just one Vatican official. One wonders how many more are engaged in such creative finances for their friends, family and self. It strikes me that cleaning up this kind of corruption probably does call for the kind of black and white thinking of competent lay Catholics, like Mary Ann Glendon, who will not take well to this kind of 'secularization'. I may not agree with her politics or theology, but I am perfectly willing to admit her world view is much more likely to take this particular financial bull by the horns, than mine world view, or Pope Francis' for that matter. I take the corruption very seriously, but like Francis, am perfectly willing to admit I don't have the kind of personality needed to root it out.
The Italians seem to be taking Pope Francis' commission much more seriously than anyone else. Over at Vatican Insider, Andrea Tornielli has written a number of posts on these latest stories and Pope Francis' commission. In this article Tornielli makes the following point, which John Allen left out of his coverage:
The IOR is not therefore being placed under the administration of an external commissioner, nor are any changes being made to the internal governance equilibrium. Before going ahead with any potential reforms, Francis wants to know everything there is to know about the IOR. The new Pope’s decision is important because he obviously did not rely blindly on the media strategy of Institute’s new German president Ernst von Freyberg and his numerous interviews with the international press. Nor on the theology lessons on the things that are “essential” for the Church’s freedom, given in a surprising interview with the IOR’s Director General, Paolo Cipriani.
These lines may indicate more than meets the eye because they clearly state that Pope Francis is not swallowing the PR line being promulgated by the Vatican Bank itself which were most likely PR strategies generated by Greg Burke and his Vatican Communications office. Which means Pope Francis is not going to be railroaded by Opus Dei; or so I hope.
I do have a request for Mary Ann Glendon. I have read quite a bit of her writing and freely admit we do not see eye to eye on a lot things, but I would hope we would see eye to eye on rooting out the corruption which is overwhelming any Catholic message. She has an opportunity as a woman to do some real cleaning in the halls of the Vatican. It's an opportunity rarely given to any Catholic woman. Don't blow it, don't soft sell it, don't cave into the men. Use the strongest disinfectant possible even if the smell drives many of the boys out of the halls. Nothing wrong with the smell of sheep and nothing wrong with the smell of a strong disinfectant.