More Notre Dame Corruption

By: malapert

The whore of Babylon must be so proud...

Prosecutors and gendarmerie staged a raid this month into the usually serene offices of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, seizing computers and caches of documents from archives and employees. Two weeks later, the longtime head of Pope Francis’ security service resigned after leaked ­reports of alleged financial wrongdoing in the Vatican.

Reports have emerged detailing the movement of Vatican money through slush funds across Europe — and a Vatican investment of more than $250 million into luxury London apartments, brokered through a ­financier who profited even while the Vatican’s investment tanked.

Italian media also report that Vatican officials contemplated ­investing hundreds of millions in Angolan oil fields — money that comes mostly from an annual collection intended to support papal charities. Per the Italian reports, prosecutors have also found evidence of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office and money-laundering among the Vatican’s upper echelon of managers.

A first round of indictments in a Vatican City state court is expected to be handed down soon. Red-hatted princes of the church may eventually be implicated.

All of this, of course, sounds like a plot recycled from “The Godfather Part III.” Financial scandal at the Vatican is nothing new. The Vatican’s official bank has faced repeated crises since it was founded in 1942, and the bank itself was created to curtail fiscal irregularity.

But when Pope Francis was elected in 2013, it was with a mandate to clean up finances. His efforts began well: The pope regularized accounting procedures, committed to European anti-corruption standards, and by 2016, the Vatican had contracted the global accounting giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct the first serious external audit in its history.

But the pope’s reform project was stymied at every turn by seasoned Vatican bureaucrats with more ­influence and support than the group tasked with reforming their bureaucracy. A powerful Vatican official, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, unilaterally canceled the planned audit in April 2016. The next year, the Vatican’s auditor-general was forced out, allegedly after he discovered financial improprieties on the part of his superiors.

The figure who made the most progress on reining in Vatican graft — George Cardinal Pell — now sits in an Australian prison, after he was convicted of sexual abuse in a trial many Australian ­jurists found deeply suspect.

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