Wouldn’t you know it, another scandal has rocked the Vatican Bank known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) at the very time when the Vatican is trying to fix its image and give the impression that it doesn’t do these kinds of things any more.
A senior Catholic cleric Monsignor Nurzio Scarano, 61, was arrested along with a former Italian spy and a financier under accusations of money laundering and corruption. Scarano and company were allegedly plotting to smuggle 20 million Euros belonging to some “Swiss friends” of his, into Italy on an Italian government jet. One wonders what kind of Swiss friends these were that did not want the Italian authorities to find out about the money. Monsignor Scarano is languishing in Rome’s Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison.
The Vatican denies all the charges, of course, and asked that Scarano be moved out of the prison into house arrest somewhere so he can “celebrate mass.” They claim that Monsignor Scarano “is not well, he is very tried and is not sleeping well.”
It would not be difficult to understand why the Monsignor isn’t sleeping well besides the fact that he is not used to the stark austerity of the prison. After all, he has just undermined the whole Roman Catholic Church and its newly minted image of sanctity by his actions.
Moreover, this is not the first time the senior cleric has been involved in scandal. He had actually been suspended from his Vatican accountancy job because Italian authorities notified the Vatican that he was under investigation in an unrelated money laundering scheme involving the IOR.
Scarano was confident that there would be no problem in transferring the allegedly dirty money into Italy. He and his accomplice discussed it over a phone that was officially wiretapped by Italian police. Court documents say “Scarano controlled vast amounts of money and felt he could act with impunity because of his connections to the Vatican bank.”
His secret service accomplice also assured Scarano of his immunity as an Italian government official: “The customs people will clear us on the plane for me. They won’t do anything to me. They’ll see my (official) passport and they’ll say ‘good day, sir, goodbye, everything is in order.’”
In her report, Italian judge Barbara Callari wrote that Scarano felt safe “thanks to his relations with the Vatican bank.” She said the monsignor saw the IOR as “the only safe and rapid instrument for financial and banking operations that could evade – if not outright violate – laws against money laundering and tax evasion.”
The judge also wrote that the “investigations showed that Scarano had ‘very vast economic resources’ and that ‘the prelate did not hesitate to use complicated stratagems and to involve many third parties to carry out financial operations without respecting norms against money laundering.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis felt that he ought to do something about the IOR. He personally issued a hand-written order to establish a 5-person commission to investigate the activities of the IOR (presumably to make sure that all the money and transactions are all for actual works of religion and not dirty money mixed up in money laundering activities) and report back to him. Benedict XVI appointed such a commission recently too. That commission reported to Benedict at least some of the dirty deeds of the Vatican bank, which was, at the time involved in yet another money-laundering scandal. That one resulted in the resignation of its president at the time Ettore Gotti Tedeschi whose home and offices were ransacked by police in still another corruption investigation.
Shortly after establishing the commission, upon receiving word of the sweeping papal probe of the IOR, the director and deputy director of the IOR resigned. Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli handed in their resignations “in the best interest of the institute and the Holy See,” the Vatican said.
The Vatican bank is known for its numbered personal accounts for clerics and a privileged group of laymen who use those accounts for their personal matters, and thereby avoid taxes and tax law scrutiny. Meanwhile the Vatican is trying to get the nations of the world to believe that the IOR is complying with international money laundering laws.
But more fundamentally, the IOR accounts are used to deprive the Italian people of their opportunities. Italy’s economy is in shambles. Youth unemployment is at 40 percent. The government doesn’t have enough money to get the economy going again. It is estimated that if the Italian government could collect only the taxes due it, there would be no deficit, no austerity measures, and life would be much better for its citizens. But thanks, in part, to the Institute for Works of Religion, and its tax haven for wealthy Italians, Italy suffers under economic recession. No doubt, having such a convenient tax avoidance instrument, the Catholic Church benefits instead.
After centuries of sucking the economic life-blood out of Italy, the Vatican will one day have to face the consequences. “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” Revelation 17:16
“The sins of Babylon will be laid open… the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked.” Great Controversy, page 606