Top 5 financial transgressions committed by the Vatican


Author: Sophie Perryer

The Vatican’s ultra-secretive culture and dubious financial dealings have frequently mired it in scandal. We chart the most memorable

Feature image
The Vatican’s finances have long been shrouded in mystery, but its involvement in a number of scandals over the last 100 years have shed some light on the city-state’s secretive dealings

The Vatican is exceptional in every sense of the word. The tiny city-state, surrounded by Rome, is the smallest state in the world by area and population, yet it wields a unique power over the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, by dint of the fact that it holds the seat of the religion’s church.

It is independent of, yet fully owned by, the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Pope. It is, quite literally, a law unto itself.

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The Vatican Bank is rocked by scandal again

By David Willey
BBC News, RomePublished18 July 2013

Pope Francis
image captionDespite his cheery exterior, the Pope is angry at the goings on at the Vatican Bank

When I first settled in Rome in the early 1970s, it was common knowledge among resident foreign journalists that you could get a much better exchange rate for the Italian lira from your dollars or pounds by visiting the Vatican’s own bank, situated inside a medieval tower next to the Apostolic Palace inside Vatican City.

So, showing my press pass, I climbed the stairs into this strange Holy of Holies, where the only other clients in the marble-lined banking hall were priests and nuns.

I wrote out a cheque, which the bank clerk cashed after checking my identity. He handed me about 10% more lira than if I had made the transaction in one of the commercial banks just down the street in Italian territory. I had just discovered my very own offshore fiscal paradise.

Thus began my short-lived but instructive introductory course into Vatican banking. A few months later, someone leaked what was happening and I could no longer gain access to the Vatican’s financial inner sanctum.

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How the Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini’s millions

Pope Benedict XVI

Behind Pope Benedict XVI is a porfolio of property that includes commercial premises on London’s New Bond Street. Photograph: Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis

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David Leigh, Jean Fracois Tanda and Jessica Benhamou, Mon 21 Jan 2013

Papacy used offshore tax havens to create £500m international portfolio, featuring real estate in UK, France and Switzerland

Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James’s Square and Pall Mall.

But these office blocks in one of London’s most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.

Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church’s international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

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How Rich Is the Catholic Church? It’s Impossible to Tell

How much real estate does the Catholic Church own? What are its equity holdings? These questions, and more, not answered.


Emily Stewart SEP 22, 2015

How Rich Is the Catholic Church? It's Impossible to Tell

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Feeling guilty about investing in “sin” stocks, like makers of guns, cigarettes and alcohol products? Don’t. Over the course of its history of investing, the Catholic Church has done much worse. 

In the 1960s, Italian media uncovered evidence that the Vatican had invested in entities that conflict directly with the church’s holy mission, including Istituto Farmacologico Serono, a pharmaceutical company that made birth control pills, and Udine, a military weapons manufacturer. There have also been unconfirmed rumor of church money in firearms manufacturer Beretta and companies with activities in gambling and pornography. It has been linked to dealings with Nazi gold during World War II as well.

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You’ll need a strong stomach to digest Revelation’s insights into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church

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Brigid Delaney

ABC’s documentary about a convicted paedophile priest is difficult to watch, but perhaps it’s necessary to bear witness

The inside of Ballarat cathedral.
The inside of Ballarat cathedral. The ABC’s new three-part documentary Revelation sees journalist Sarah Ferguson interview criminal priests and brothers of the Catholic church in Australia. Photograph: ABC TV

Despite an extensive royal commission, scores of criminal trials and excellent books such as Louise Milligan’s Cardinal and David Marr’s The Prince, there are still some unanswered questions about child sexual abuse in the now-tattered narrative of the Catholic church in Australia.

These include: why did these priests do such horrible things? How did they justify their crimes to themselves and to God? What kind of conversations may they have had with, say, their archbishop or monsignor, once they were rumbled by a parent or teacher or victim?

Continue reading “You’ll need a strong stomach to digest Revelation’s insights into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church”