Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Re-appearing news: Did Pope resign due to Vatican Bank scandal?

by Larry Geller

Although most media reviews of the tenure and sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI accept that his motivation is failing health, there is another theory nibbling at the edges of credibility. No, it’s not the persistent accusations of sex-abuse cover-up. This theory has to do with the ongoing Vatican Bank money-laundering scandal.

The secret society at the Vatican that run the accounts are a group of cardinals who report to Pope Benedict and they do not disclose financial statements or transactions which is hardly an audited system nor does it display financial ethics.

[Politcol News, Vatican Bank -Money Laundering Scandal, 9/21/2010]

The Pope, the theory goes, is getting out before the stuff hits the fan.

As to the Pope’s health, that also is under scrutiny by resignation theorists. Tweets are flying, of course, in all directions, but a search of news articles reveals that when the Pope’s resignation was first posited in late 2011, ill health was denied:

The Vatican dismissed an Italian newspaper report on Sunday that Pope Benedict was considering resigning next year when he turns 85.

"The pope's health is excellent," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. "We don't know anything about it. Ask the person who wrote it."

[Reuters, Vatican dismisses talk of pope resigning in 2012, 9/25/2011]

Although the Vatican spokesperson diverted speculation to a question of the Pope’s health, the Italian newspaper Libero had not cited any specific motivation that would move the Pope to resign.

It’s hard to weigh, from a distance and from behind a computer monitor, the credibility of on-line media accounts of the Pope’s responsibility in the Vatican Bank investigations. But there is juice in the bank saga. For example:

The Vatican has yet to divulge the business practices its bank has been using for decades. “There is fear that, owing to the transparency necessary today, one will find something in the past that one doesn’t want to,” says Marco Politi, a Rome-based Vatican expert.

Such things could include a complex system of ghost accounts and shell companies like the bank had when Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus was its head in the 1980s. At the time, the bank did business involving foreign currency and weapons with the Milanese banker Robert Calvi and the mafia financier Michele Sidona — and helped launder illegal proceeds the mafia earned from drug-trafficking as well as bribes paid to Christian-conservative Italian politicians.

In the end, Calvi was found dangling beneath London’s Blackfriars Bridge and his private secretary fell to her death from the window of his Banco Ambrosiano. Four years later, in 1986, Sidona would die in prison after drinking a morning espresso laced with cyanide.

[Der Speigel,  Transparency vs. Money Laundering: Catholic Church Fears Growing Vatican Bank Scandal, 7/2/2012]

Articles posted on the web do stretch credibility—for example, that the Pope was about to be arrested in connection with Vatican Bank crimes. These articles spawn tweets that should not be accepted as “breaking news” but do spread like wildfire (an old term for “trending”). Can a Pope actually be arrested? Those in power are seldom made to pay for their crimes.

Given some time, perhaps more details will be uncovered by reliable news sources. Certainly, the Pope’s resignation has newshounds sniffing around to learn what they can. In the meantime, Google is accumulating plenty of background for armchair resignation theorists.

[hat tip to Flashpoints (KPFA), 2/11/2013]


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