Everyone wants to jump onto the Occupy Wall Street wagon. Today’s New York Times:
The Vatican called on Monday for an overhaul of the world’s financial systems, and again proposed establishment of a supranational authority to oversee the global economy, calling it necessary to bring more democratic and ethical principles to a marketplace run amok.
Maybe a little tiny wee bit of perspective is in order? Last year the Vatican Bank had almost $30 million in assets frozen by Italian authorities for suspected money laundering. In July, the head of a Catholic research hospital in Milan that has close ties to the Vatican committed suicide amid a scandal over its finances: it declared itself 1.5 billion euros in the red, with records of investments in mango plantations and staff use of personal aircraft. Investigative journalist Jason Berry has a new book out, Render Unto Rome, in which he says the Vatican has routinely taken the roughly $80 million in annual collections from Third World parishes that worshippers believe will go to help the poor and applied it to its own operating expenses. Berry says only 11% of the funds are accounted for. Berry also notes that in its annual financial statement the Vatican values St. Peter’s Basilica at 1 euro.
And oh yes, also in today’s New York Times is the story of a Vatican investigation being launched into sex abuse at an abbey in London whose former headmaster, Father David Pearce (aka “the devil in the dog collar”) went to prison for sexually abusing young boys over a 35 year career. To date, the Vatican has paid out $2 billion in settlements to U.S. sex abuse victims as well as for treating priests. The funds used to make amends for what amounts to a global ring of child rape located within the Church’s internal structure (oops) come from the sale of churches and schools. But the sale of churches and schools is justified because fewer people want to belong to an organization that fosters and harbors child rapists. That actually makes some sense, financially and otherwise.