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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/28/13

The Vatican's Golden Toilet Flush: Mussolini's Millions Point To Greater Secret Papal Wealth

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The newest Vatican financial revelation brings about one very important point: no one knows just how much the Vatican is worth except the pontiff himself and some very close-lipped minions.  

The Guardian, London:

        "Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

Since then the international value of Mussolini's nest-egg has mounted until it now exceeds 500m pounds. In 2006, at the height of the recent property bubble, the Vatican spent 15m of those funds to buy 30 St James's Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street and in the city of Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland."

A widely-read OpEdNews article (The Vatican's Fake Occupy Implodes: Documents Evoke A History Of Money Laundering, Sexual Terrorism, And Even ... Murder) focused on the financial wrong-doings of the papacy, but only featured the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and its history in relation to John Paul I and his untimely death. This latest revelation, however, demonstrates the extent of holdings of the Vatican: secret holdings which may only be the tip of the iceberg. Holdings which maintain an extravagant lifestyle that John Paul discovered to his horror.

Pope John Paul I:

      ". . . this morning, I flushed my toilet with a solid gold lever edged with diamonds and at this very moment, bishops and cardinals are using a bathroom on the second floor of the papal palace which trappings, I am told, would draw more than fifty million dollars at auction . . . Believe me, one day, we who live in opulence, while so many are dying because they have nothing, will have to answer to Jesus as to why we have not carried out His instruction, "Love thy neighbor as thyself.' We, the clergy of the Church together with our congregations, who substitute gold and pomp and ceremony in place of Christ's instruction, who judge our masquerade of singing His praises to be more precious than human life, will have the most to explain."

Bernadino Nogara - The Man Behind The Vatican Empire

To understand the complex and secretive roots of the Vatican's financial empire, it's necessary to look back to 1929, when the papacy's finances were less than stellar. Financial advisor Bernadino Nogara had been a good friend of several papacies (of his many siblings, two were archbishops, another was superintendent of the Vatican Museums, and his sister the mother superior of a nunnery), it was he who, as Director of the Special Administration of the Holy See, engineered the vast financial settlement of the Lateran Treaties with Mussolini. 


$92 million may not seem to be a significant amount of money, but in the context of Depression Era Italy, the sum is staggering and could have accounted for a huge chunk out of Italy's impoverished economy. Seeding the Vatican's finances with that amount (almost half of it in cash, the remainder in government bonds) was akin to bankrolling a small country. Indeed, that was the purpose: the Vatican acquired a measure of independence with its recognition of Fascism.  

And Nogara made the most of the Mussolini millions in his 35-year tenure as chief financier:

     "Under Pius XI, Nogara made large investments in firms contrary to   Catholic social teaching   and made direct loans to Mussolini's government prior to   Mussolini's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. [6][7]   Under Pius XII, Nogara routinely invested in firms that profited from and enabled the war effort of the   Axis powers   during   World War II. Though these investments were hidden from the Allies (with whom Nogara also transacted), through the use of   holding companies   and   offshore banking centers, under Nogara "like water finding a downhill path, Vatican money found its way to the grisly side of   the Holocaust".

Nogara's anti-Semitic dealings under Pius XII were only brought about years later: all of his personal meetings with the Pope were in private and no notes were taken.

Secrecy reigned.

Just as it does now.

The Guardian asked the Vatican's representative in London, the papal nuncio, archbishop Antonio Mennini, why the papacy continued with such secrecy over the identity of its property investments in London. 

    "We also asked what the pope spent the income on. True to its tradition of silence on the subject, the Roman Catholic church's spokesman said that the nuncio had no comment."

More Money Than God

Forget the stories of the value of the Vatican's porn library. Or of its art collection. Those are pittances: the known holdings of the Catholic Church in the U.S. tops $500 billion. Combine it with holdings in Catholic Countries such as Italy (now the 8th strongest economy in the world), Mexico, Brazil, and the Filipines, companies and industrial complexes and in secret secular real estate, the worth of the Church reaches into the trillion$. It could be argued that the Vatican controls an economy larger than the U.S.  

And what of more secret holdings? 

God only knows.  

And maybe He's pissed. He may tipped off the Guardian.


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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books éČ" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)
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