Holy Money

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeye/episodes/holy-money

Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 10 PM ET/PT


Holy Money investigates the financial scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church and the efforts of the new Pope Francis to clean up its multi-billion-dollar business dealings amid allegations of money laundering, corruption and embezzlement of funds.

Today, the Pope leads a church with more than one billion Catholics but also a business empire of global dimensions. The Catholic Church is the world’s richest religious institution with vast real estate holdings and its own Vatican Bank.

Pope Francis has made it his mission to get the Vatican’s financial house in order but there are stumbling blocks on the road to his newly announced reforms and the stakes are sky high for everyone involved.

Led by University College London Historian John Dickie, a leading expert in Italian history, the documentary deconstructs the mechanisms by which the Church administers and invests its money. It reveals the inner workings of the Vatican Bank, and tells the story of a priest known as Father 500 Euros, charged in January, 2014 with money laundering millions of Euros through Vatican Bank accounts.

In the documentary, a U.S. economist reveals his study found embezzlement within the church is a significant problem. `”We found that 85% of the dioceses had experienced an embezzlement in recent years, many more than one,” says Charles Zech, Professor of Economics at Villanova University. “No one would think that a priest would embezzle from the Church. No one would think that a lay worker would embezzle from the Church. So they don’t put the kind of internal financial controls that are commonplace in the business world.”

Also in the United States, Prof. Dickie explores the financial implications of the sexual abuse scandals and allegations of a financial cover-up in the Milwaukee Archdiocese to avoid paying compensation to victims.

In Italy and beyond, he interviews lawyers, prosecutors, investigative reporters, economists and historians to get to the heart of the Catholic Church’s finances, and the internal pressures shaping efforts at reform.

“Pope Francis is trying to put his house in order,” says Prof. Dickie. “He has opened the Vatican’s accounts to scrutiny. He’s cracking down on greed, avarice and ostentation. But the road ahead could be rocky.”

“If these reforms are going to take place, the Pope is going to need support,” adds Robert Mickens, a journalist at The Tablet, a Catholic news weekly. “It’s not real clear that there is a strong body of support behind him right now. He’s thrown off a lot of people, not only at the Vatican.”

Holy Money was directed by Jesus Garces Lambert for GA&A Productions and ZDF Arte. John Dickie is the author of “Cosa Nostra, A History of the Sicilian Mafia” and ” Blood Brotherhoods: the Rise of the Italian Mafias”.

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