Sunday, October 24, 2010

More 'Astonishment' From The Vatican And It's Bankers

If there is a Biblical precedent operating in this story,  St Peter's has one more 'astonished' denial left before the cock crows.

Once again the Vatican expresses it's "astonishment" that Italian banking officials could conceive of the Vatican Bank laundering money.  Maybe the Vatican thinks 'laundering' is a sacrilegious term for taking dirty money and seemingly making it holy and clean.  Perhaps they see the Vatican bank as a kind of 'confessional' for sinful Benjamins.  In any event, Italian officials don't have the same attitude.

Prosecutors: Vatican Bank Defying Laundering Laws
Rome:  Italian prosecutors contest claims by the Vatican bank that it is trying to comply with international rules to fight money laundering, saying an investigation that led to the seizure of euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account shows "exactly the opposite," according to a court document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

An Italian court on Wednesday rejected a Vatican request to lift the seizure, leading the Vatican to express "astonishment" at the court's ruling and indicating the case will not be cleared up quickly, as the Vatican originally predicted. (More astonishment from the Vatican. Imagine that.)

Since the money was ordered seized last month, the Vatican and the bank's chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, have repeatedly said the allegations resulted from a "misunderstanding" and that the Vatican bank — officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion — has been working to comply with international rules to fight money-laundering.

The strongly worded document from the prosecutors' office said that while there is a "generic and stated will" to conform by the bank "there is no sign that the institutions of the Catholic church are moving in that direction." (All talk and no walk. Imagine that.)

It said the prosecutor's investigation had found "exactly the opposite."

The document was submitted to the court as part of the prosecutors' case against the bank.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a new statement Friday evening, saying Vatican bank officials "confirm their intent to follow the line of transparency" in all financial transactions and are confident in being able to provide as soon as possible all clarifications requested. (A person confirming their intent to kick a bad habit is not the same as following through on changing the behavior. Often times it's just a ploy to silence the people who desire that the behavior be changed.)

Under the investigation, financial police seized the money Sept. 21 from a Vatican bank account at the Rome branch of Credito Artigiano Spa, after the bank informed the Bank of Italy about possible violations of anti-money laundering norms.

The bulk of the money, euro20 million ($26 million), was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to Banca del Fucino.

The prosecutors' document suggests confirmation of Italian press reports that the probe was widening, looking into possible violations in earlier years linked to Italian corruption, in addition to the two most recent cases.

The document cites suspicious transactions involving checks drawn from a Vatican bank account at Unicredit bank in 2009, involving the use of a false name. (Imagine that, a false name.  Maciel knew how that worked.)

The prosecutors also cited a euro650,000 withdrawal from a Vatican bank account at Intesa San Paolo bank where the Vatican didn't specify the money's ultimate destination despite a specific request by the Italian bank.

The prosecutors called this "a deliberate failure to observe the anti-laundering laws with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital." 
The Italian banks have declined comment.

The Vatican bank is required to provide such information because it is considered by Italy to be a foreign bank.

Gotti and his No. 2, Paolo Cipriani, have been placed under investigation by Italian authorities. They were questioned by Rome prosecutors on Sept. 30. They have not been charged with any crime.

Italian legal experts have said the case could end up being decided by Italy's highest court........

The article then continues to give a brief history of the Banco Ambrosio scandal.


I was going to write about this article on Catholic loyalists taking to the blogosphere to defend Church teachings.  I'm still going to do that, but from a different perspective.  How do these bloggers give the institutional structure, which is proving to be more and more corrupt and self serving, a free pass?  I just don't get that attitude at all.  Does Newt Gingrich have the truth of the matter, that conservatives are so immature and shallow that he doesn't have to walk their talk, he just has to talk it?  Is that all it takes to soothe the fears of the conservatives, the right talk around their wine and wheat?  Talk the talk and you can be as corrupt as you want as long as you are somewhat discrete?

That is the big message I'm getting from Loyalist Catholics.  We don't care how the hierarchy hurts, harms, denigrates, lives hypocritically, or spends our money as long as they talk our talk.  The kind of talk that puts a public spotlight on the sins of others, while ignoring the discrete sins of loyalists.  The kind of talk that essentially says to a priest, you can be sexually active as long as you attack abortion and gay marriage and make sure we don't have to LOOK at what you actually do with your own life.  The kind of talk that tells gays they can be gay as long as they don't claim to be gay.  The kind of talk that Sarah Palin gets away with about teen age virginity and a parent's duty to teach that while her own family demonstrates it doesn't work.

This is the same kind of posturing that dares to pay Maggie Gallagher of NOM to be the face of traditional marriage when her own sexual history is far from traditional. In fact for some reason she doesn't use her married name Srivastav, which I thought was the kind of thing upscale professional women's libbers from Yale did. Oh did I mention, she's a Yalie?

I've written before that I really don't have any trouble with conservative religious rituals.  If those kinds of practices stoke one's spiritual engines that's fine by me.  What I really have a problem with is when one's Eucharistic Adoration blinds them to the level of corruption in the Institution and makes them de facto enablers of that corruption.  I get really frustrated when loyalty to the theology of the Trenten church is used to excuse the fact the adherents of that theology don't walk their talk.  It makes for a very shallow hypocritical and magical approach to Catholicism that Jesus never taught.  Jesus was not impressed with those who knew the rules, but only applied them as full time exercises to others, while they themselves substituted occasional ritual practice as sufficient for their own walk.  He called them 'whitened sepulchres'.

I really wish 'Loyalist Catholic' bloggers would turn down some of their generous donations from Republican political operatives and get on board with the understanding that the bottom line for both conservative and progressive Catholics has to be the integrity of our teaching authority and governing instituion.  It does not reflect well on the mission of the Church, no matter how you define that mission, to have the Vatican Bank function as a money laundering center, have our bishops engaged in a criminal conspiracy to hide and protect clerical sexual abusers, or have our most visible representatives engaged in taking bribes from criminal enterprises or spending vast sums of money on themselves and their religious accoutrements. 

It is pointless for Catholics to argue over theological or moral ideation while the institution itself is mired in good old fashioned and very traditional secular corruption.  I urge traditionalist to take a real look at a consistent part of the tradition, and that's the institutionalized corruption.  The Latin and the rest of it can be debated later.


  1. All I can say is "wow!" You certainly hit the nails on the head. I too saw this article in the AP feed on the NYT. Despite the denials from the members of the apostleship of wingnuttery that have named themselves as defenders of institutional Catholicism, their movement is absolutely political and will wind up discrediting the church more than it helps it. You certainly are right about the fact that what people really do doesn't matter to the apostleship of wingnuttery, rather they give credibility to what they say. Maybe these people should re-read this week's gospel and look into the mirror while doing so.

  2. And the news about the documents released in San Diego is so familiar. Corruption at the highest-Vatican and lowest-parish levels and the right wing nuts are concerned about the proper orientation of our sexuality! Not to mention the proper dress code!

  3. It does get old, and the more information that comes out the crazier all the emphasis on the integrity and sexual morality of others appears as nothing more than an orchestrated smoke screen.

  4. Those darn right-wingers can't even stay off this site. I'm finding adverts for the local GOP candidate for US House. I've already cast my ballot. I wish that meant I didn't get any more of those adverts.

    Senator Danforth, after he retired from the US Senate, wrote a book a couple of years ago in which he describes the affront to both religion and politics when the 2 are combined. I wish more of the religious right were listening. An ordained minister before starting a political career, he made a very good case.

    The right-wingers in the church hierarchy I can ignore. Much as I am saddened by the sins being committed, I'm not dependent on the institution of the church for the good of my soul. My problem enters when they impact politics and law. I don't appreciate the attempts to coerce my conscience.

  5. Taliban Catholics indeed!!!

    We've been in the same parish for more than 20 years. We've entertained each one of our parish priests at our home on many occasions. One priest, who is most responsible for my continued adherence to the faith, chose me as a confidant.

    What we have heard over and over again from parish priests is the attempt by these arch-conservatives to undermine the local priests. They act like tattle-tales, some of them writing weekly to the Bishop. Nothing is too small to be criticized. One woman appointed herself the "catechist" of our parish. They've got an incredible sense of entitlement and arrogance about them. Can they not see they are Pharisees?

    Thomas Peters broke the Marcial Maciel story so at least he has some conscience but what a jerk otherwise. As I delved into the Legion of Christ scandal I started to read the "American Papist". I was horrified by the response of some of his readers to Maciel's crimes. One said "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph I pray that this is not true!". This sentiment was repeated over and over again.

    I can't remember whether I mentioned this here so forgive me if I repeat myself. Some of the cons were proposing to bring the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi youth programs to our parish. I attended their organizing meeting and spoke against the idea citing Maciel's crimes, the secretive and coercive nature of their "retreats" for youth and the sexist nature of the Conquest and Challenge programs. At the time I was astounded that a well educated and well intended man could stand up and justify the programs, acknowledge the problems with the LC/RC and still recommend we adopt them. I now feel somewhat smug and superior knowing that I was vindicated. At the time I felt no pleasure at all.


  6. I'm reminded of Winston Churchill's speech:

    "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
    we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
    we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
    we shall fight on the beaches,
    we shall fight on the landing grounds,
    we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
    we shall fight in the hills;
    we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."


    word verification: concom