Many people spotted this story over the holiday break, and it's worth some commentary. The Institute for Religious Operations, otherwise known as the Vatican Bank, has long been a sore spot in the Vatican's image in the world. The problems began, one might recall, in the late pontificate of Paul VI(though the story broke later), when the first scandals and stories began to break tying the bank to other scandals, mobster Michelle Sindona's Franklin Bank collapse, the Loge Propaganda Due affair that tied Mason Licio Gelli's P2 Lodge to high ranking Italian government and Vatican officials, to the connections of Banco Ambrosiano's Roberto Calvi (found hanging from London's Blackfriar's Bridge with bricks stuffed into his pants), to American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, at one time head of the IOR, and later Pope John-Paul II's chief of security. And of course, to the rumors that persist to this day that Albino Cardinal Luciani - Pope John-Paul I - was rumored to be ready to take a major broom to the Vatican Bank (and the Vatican itself), and clean out the swamp, when he was found dead in his bed, shortly after a meeting with an archbishop. The circumstances of his death, not the least the strange behavior of the Cardinal Camerlengo (the cardinal who takes over Vatican operations until a new pope is elected) Jean Villot in his handing of the death, led some to conclude John-Paul I was murdered. (For the record, it's a suspicion I continue to entertain.) More recently, suspicious 1.8 billion dollar transactions have apparently taken place between the Vatican and Australia, prompting one Vatican spokesman to state that the Vatican simply doesn't have that kind of money laying around. I say balderdash to that, for as I wrote in Covert Wars and Breakaway Civilizations, Eugene Cardinal Tisserant - incidentally the Cardinal in charge of the Vatican archives at the time - was heavily implicated, in the 1970s, as being involved in a scheme to launder $900 million in fraudulent American corporate securities.
Then there's Francis, who's right up there in my book along with Innocent III, Boniface VIII, and Pius "I-am-Tradition" IX for "reckless expansions of papal power." You might recall that a few years ago, Catherine Austin Fitts and I looked up Francis' appointment of an accounting firm to audit the Vatican Bank during one of her visits to me. So we went online, and both guffawed out loud when we discovered that he had appointed the same firm that was the auditor of record for - here it comes - Lloyd's of London and The Bank of International Settlements. For someone wanting to get to the bottom of the financial swamp that is the Vatican Bank, this was not an auspicious beginning.
But that's nothing compared to what Jorge Cardinal Bergolio a.k.a. Francis I has just done:
Here's the crux (not to coin a pun) of it:
Pope Francis issued a new law Monday reorganizing Vatican finances following a series of scandals.
In a document issued Dec. 28, the pope formalized the transfer of financial responsibilities from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which functions as the Holy See’s treasury and sovereign wealth manager.
He first announced the shake-up in an Aug. 25 letter to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that was made public on Nov. 5 after the Secretariat of State was engulfed by accusations of financial mismanagement.
The pope promulgated the new law in an apostolic letter issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”).
The text, entitled “A better organization” and released in Italian, also set out new regulations for the oversight of Peter’s Pence, an annual worldwide collection supporting the pope’s mission.
In other words, Francis has moved the Vatican Bank from the Secretariat of State, normally headed by an archbishop or a cardinal archbishop, to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, in other words, placing the bank directly, for the first time in its chequered history, under the Pope. To draw a somewhat clumsy analogy, this is akin to President Kennedy's National Security Action Memorandum, that removed the CIA from oversight of covert operations, and placed those operations directly under the military, i.e., directly under the chain of command ending in the Presidency. In effect, what Francis has done is to move the whole "hidden system of finance" that is the Vatican Bank, a participant in that global "hidden system" that I've speculated about for so long, and placed it directly under papal control.
It might be argued that this was the only way to deal with the bank, to gain any measure of real oversight or transparency in the institution.
But I suspect it augurs something entirely different, and far more ominous, namely, the final capture of the papacy by "the high financial cabal". And as that system moves increasingly toward more globaloney, expect the same from the Vatican and future popes. After all, Francis has made no secret he's fully on board with that agenda. And this is the biggest symbol of them all.
See you on the flip side...