While the Pell’s away, the church mice will play

AS the first prefect (from February 2014) of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy, Cardinal George Pell quickly acquired a reputation for confrontational rigour as he worked to reform the Vatican’s notoriously slipshod and corrupt accounts. Even detractors admitted he seemed to find his true métier in the role. In late 2014, he distributed a new handbook to all Vatican offices. It “brings Financial Management practices in line with international standards,” he wrote. Fans of Godfather III will remember Archbishop Gilday’s discussion with Michael about the Corleone family’s desire to acquire a controlling interest in Immobiliare. “We have directors, we have rules – we have very old rules,” he says – the admonition really haggling. Well, Cardinal Pell overturned those old rules. Since he began what he calls his “retreat” following a conviction on rigged charges in Victoria, it would be fair to say financial standards at the Vatican have declined. The Wall Street Journal reports that money – a lot of money – is disappearing again:

Every year, Catholics around the world donate tens of millions of dollars to the pope. Bishops exhort the faithful to support the weak and suffering through the pope’s main charitable appeal, called Peter’s Pence.

What the church doesn’t advertise is that most of that collection, worth more than more than €50 million ($55 million) annually, goes toward plugging the hole in the Vatican’s own administrative budget, while as little as 10% is spent on charitable works, according to people familiar with the funds.

The little-publicized breakdown of how the Holy See spends Peter’s Pence, known only among senior Vatican officials, is raising concern among some Catholic Church leaders that the faithful are being misled about the use of their donations, which could further hurt the credibility of the Vatican’s financial management under Pope Francis.

It gets worse: it turns out that not only is Peter’s Pence not reaching the destitute, a lot of the money is being funnelled into the movie business. And we’re not talking about spiritually uplifting films either:

A fund in which the Vatican’s Secretariat of State has invested tens of millions of euros has links to two Swiss banks investigated or implicated in bribery and money laundering scandals involving more than one billion dollars. The fund is under investigation by Vatican authorities.

The fund, Centurion Global Fund, made headlines this week that it used the Vatican assets under its management to invest in Hollywood films, real estate, and utilities, including investments in movies like “Men in Black International” and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.”

Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra reported that the Centurion Global Fund has raised around 70 million euro in cash, and that the Holy See’s Secretariat of State is the source of at least two-thirds of the fund’s assets. The Vatican’s investment is reported to include funds from the Peter’s Pence collection, intended to support charitable works and the ministry of the Vatican Curia.

So there you have it. Cash-strapped Catholics in the pews gave money to the Vatican for the poor and ended up boosting the reputation and record sales of Elton John. Mr John is not thought to be food-deprived. The other scandal involving Peter’s Pence surrounds an attempt by the Vatican Secretariat of State to spend $390 million to buy a former Harrod’s warehouse in London’s swank Chelsea. According to the Italian magazine L’Espresso, before the scheme was shut down, the Secretariat was being “overcharged” by “several Italian middlemen.” The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the Egmont Group, a network of more than 160 national financial intelligence units, suspended the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF) from access to its secure web system, through which information is shared about money laundering and other financial crimes. When the Vatican’s own financial regulator is excluded as untrustworthy because of the Secretariat of State’s association with “Italian middlemen,” the situation is dire. So much for George Pell’s handbook.

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17 Responses to While the Pell’s away, the church mice will play

  1. mareeS

    Murky. A good piece of reporting.

  2. stackja

    They all will have to face the final judgment. GP will of course be fairly judged. The others will face the final judgment and hope for mercy.

  3. “We need to free a convicted rock spider to try to fix up centuries-old corruption in the Church” seems like an odd take.

  4. max

    Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

    Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as the visible foundation and source of unity, and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered: that, in brief, “the Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls.”

    Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error “when, in the exercise of his office.
    Infallibility is, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, “more than a simple, de facto absence of error. It is a positive perfection, ruling out the possibility of error”.

  5. struth

    Monty, I declare you to be a RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAApist.

    I received a complaint from a drug fucked informant looking for cash.

    He can’t prove anything but we are taking you to a Victorian Court and telling them you are a catholic conservative.
    No proof needed.

  6. Ivan Denisovich

    So there you have it. Cash-strapped Catholics in the pews gave money to the Vatican for the poor and ended up boosting the reputation and record sales of Elton John.

    Not only for Elton:

    No, Francis is focusing on the Soros agenda, not the persecuted Catholics’ agenda. Recall that this is the Pope who said, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.”

    Francis shares the Soros view that “national borders are the obstacle.” The Pope incessantly interjects his view into American politics, by commenting about Trump’s wall as “those who build walls will become prisoners of the walls they put up” or intruding into the political campaign that politicians who promote a wall are “unchristian.”

    The Vatican is no friend of America, what with the disturbing news that The Vatican appropriated $500,000 of Peter’s Pence funds to aid and abet lawbreakers on our southern border.……….

    It’s noteworthy that American Catholics are the largest contributors to Peter’s Pence. It is time to shut off the financial spigot to this Vatican scheme to undermine the safety, security and sovereignty of Europe and the United States…….


    On the last Sunday in June, the second collection basket will be passed for Peter’s Pence. Close your wallet.


  7. John A

    m0nty #3260208, posted on December 13, 2019 at 10:49 am

    “We need to free a convicted rock spider to try to fix up centuries-old corruption in the Church” seems like an odd take.

    Since the case is on appeal, the conviction is stayed, and we legally need to presume his innocence.

    Of course, just as with Lindy Chamberlain’s case, prejudice will always be rife, won’t it?

  8. C.L.

    “We need to free a convicted rock spider to try to fix up centuries-old corruption in the Church” seems like an odd take.

    It would be, I guess.


  9. Gab

    monty is forever the slave to “popular opinion” never thinking for himself. Poor old monty.

  10. anonandon

    Pell will get off next year but I very much doubt he will be able to go back. Their strategy worked.

  11. Lee

    I think Monty will have egg all over his face come the High Court decision next year.

  12. Believing the evidence of “J” is a really awful hot take too, montell.

  13. classical_hero

    Is the Pope Catholic?

  14. Chris M

    Remember when they used to sell indulgences to pilgrims of 9 years discount off “purgatory” per step? Haha legit as a $13 note this bunch, they need to sign Osteen or Creflo as the next pope.

  15. dover_beach

    Remember when they used to sell indulgences to pilgrims of 9 years discount off “purgatory” per step?

    No I don’t and neither do you.

  16. Smell that?

    It smells like bullshit dover.

    Actually it smells like those non-existent Tuam Babies as well!

    (What was amazing was that the press tried to workshop and rehabilitate the ridiculous story).

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