his is number four book in my Vatican research, The others covered the murder of John Paul; the Vatican Bank and its mafia connections; and buggering little boys. This one covers Pope Francis' attempt to reform the money structure of the "Holy See".
The author was the primary recipient of the Vatican Butler Leaks. He was able to get a lot of inside information on how the RCC actually works.
Francis, like John Paul when he took power, found a rats nest of intrigue, inertia and duplicity. I must admit, he is trying to do the right thing… and therefore he should watch his six.
Since the end of the war (WWII), the Vatican had grown ever-more corrupt. Their lack of internal documentation for almost everything made the accumulation of wealth and power for the insiders. For example, no one on the planet knows what real estate the Vatican owns, or what it is worth. There is no comprehensive list. Money comes and goes without oversight. If a Cardinal steals too much money, leaving a fund or two a bit shy, no problem… just divert money from Peter's Pence to cover the bills. Peter's Pence is the money sent to the Vatican from all over the world by Catholics as charitable donations to do charitable work. These guys, not unlike the Canadian Senate, assumed everyone would play be the rules because they were deemed "honorable".
The news recently announced another push by Francis to get the various powers in the RCC to come to heal. He has been foiled ever since he took power in this regard. If he asked for financial information, it was either missing, lost, accidently burned, never collected, collected by somebody else, or eaten by their dog on the way to school. Bureaucratic bullshit like that has kept Francis at bay for two years. The news story about another push by Francis happened on the same day this book was released.
Another recent story told of Cardinal greed and heartlessness. It went something like this: Cardinal A gets sick; Cardinal B next door covets his digs; Cardinal A goes into hospital; Cardinal B knocks out a wall, sequesters a new room for himself and blocks access from Cardinal A's apartment; Cardinal B boxes up Cardinal A's stuff and puts it in the hall. Luckily for B, A dies before he can do anything about it.
The various ways the mucketie-mucks cheat is a lesson that Enron would be proud of. Assets on the books with no matching inventory; free or near free apartments, and a pension plan that is doomed to financial collapse. It is nice work if you can get it. At least one retired Cardinal has a 600 sq ft apartment on prime real estate and only pays 100 Euros a year. Oops… I said sq ft; I meant square meters!, or about 7,000 sq ft. That is the size of two houses!
To Francis' credit, he has succeeded in sacking a few people and made some reforms happen. Of course, he is still constrained by "gospel" but even that is causing problems. He has made pronouncements that seem trivial to us (on gays and divorced people mostly) that have really pissed off the old guard.
The book has no index. It is full of acronyms and weird RCC names for stuff (like dicasteries) that are hard to decipher, especially without an index. It is translated from Italian and it shows. The book is very kind to Francis and extremely harsh on everyone else.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.