Vatican in financial trouble

This March 2017 live punk rock music video is called The Damned – Anti-Pope.

That song, about the Roman Catholic church and money, is orginally from 1979.

So, when John Paul II was pope. Later, it turned out that this right-wing religious leader was not only declared to be a saint by the church, but was also involved in various cover-ups of child abuse. Like his also right-wing successor Benedict XVI was similarly involved.

Now, scandals from the days of these popes come to haunt the present pope Francis I.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

Money problems and scandals plague the Vatican

The series of abuse scandals is now also affecting the Vatican. Donations are decreasing and, moreover, those decreasing amounts of money are poorly managed. That is what the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi says in a book published this week. News about financial mismanagement and money shortages seems to support his findings.

By Charlotte Klein

If the pontificate of Pope Francis fails, Nuzzi writes in his book Guidizio universale (“Last Judgment”), it will not be because of the attacks by conservative Catholics or the worldwide decline in the number of believers, but because of “the financial collapse that is getting closer’. The journalist bases that on three thousand pages of documents that he has collected since 2013. The fact that according to AP news agency the Vatican has not published a budget since 2015 is only fueling the rumors.

Financial mismanagement, a reduction in donations, money laundering and corruption is said to lead to this collapse. …

Discussion is possible about Nuzzi’s claim that the Vatican is heading for bankruptcy in 2023. But it is almost certain that the mini-state is struggling with financial deficits, partly due to the way the Vatican generates income. The state does not collect taxes but receives contributions from dioceses, income from popular museums, donations from believers and income from real estate.

The latter two now cause the biggest problems. Due to the sexual abuse scandals, worldwide donations have fallen dramatically, writes Nuzzi, especially from the United States. According to Nuzzi, the Peter’s Pence, the annual gift of millions of euros from Catholics to Vatican City, is on its way down.

Luxury apartments in London

The Financial Times also writes that around 150 million euros have been used in a Swiss bank account of the Vatican for the purchase of luxury apartments in London. This controversial purchase, which resulted in a huge profit for the original seller, was made under the direction of Cardinal Becciu. He is now under fire, also because of other substantial foreign investments.

The Vatican police therefore started an internal investigation at the beginning of October and invaded two important departments: the Financial Information Service (AIF) and the State Secretariat. Documents and computers were seized. The Vatican police suspect money laundering, fraud and corruption.

The five employees allegedly involved in these malpractices were suspended after the Italian magazine L’Espresso had published leaked documents about them. Domenico Giani, the Pope’s main bodyguard and head of the Vatican police, also offered his resignation. He was succeeded by Giuseppe Pignatone.

Pignatone was a prosecutor in Rome until last May and played a major role in the Italian fight against the Mafia. This crime fighter must now put things in order in the Vatican. It seems to be the next step of Pope Francis to reform the Catholic Church from within.

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