05 November 2015, The Tablet

Vatican and money: something old, something new, nothing borrowed in Catholic Church

Sadly, allegations of money mismanagement by the Vatican are nothing new. 

For years, many have assumed the Holy See was a) sitting on a lot of money and b) not being transparent with how it was spending it. 

What is new, however, is that the Church now has a Pope who is serious about changing this. He has already started with a clean up of the leadership of the Vatican bank and financial structures. 

What two new books show - one by Gianluigi Nuzzi, of the original Vati-leaks fame and the other by Emiliano Fitipaldi - is the depth of the problems he faced in 2013 when he became Pope and the continuing challenges.

Among the details the books reveal are: 

  • In 2011-12 the majority of a large fund, Peter’s Pence, contributed to by Catholics from across the world, worth €378 million, was being used to pay for the Vatican bureaucracy. The Holy See have stressed this fund is used for a variety of causes at the Pope’s discretion.
  • In 2014 there was a theft of documents from the archive of Cosea, a commission that was conducting an overhaul of Vatican administration and finances.
  • A lay postulator for a saint’s cause asked for €40,000 in order to make preliminary investigations.
  • In 2013, 80 per cent of €204 million deposits held by Apsa - the body which looks after money that funds the work of the Roman Curia - were with one investment at the Banca Prossima.
  • Vatican departments were keeping unaccounted money in their safes.
  • Lord Camoys, an English peer and former consulter to Apsa, in 2004 submitted a simple and brief memorandum to the department’s chief, Cardinal Attilio Nicora recommending changes to Vatican finances. But little action was taken. Lord Camoys is Chairman of The Tablet Trust. 

Apsa also features in a separate development regarding Holy See finances. Today the Vatican confirmed that an investigation was under way into Giampietro Nattino who is suspected of using an account at Apsa for money laundering, insider trading and market manipulation. 

Nattina, chairman of a family run Italian bank, told Reuters he always acted with “maximum transparency and correctness” and hoped the “matter cleared up definitively as soon as possible.” 

The Holy See is seeking the co-operation of both Italian and Swiss investigators and according to a Reuters report the investigation covers 2000 to 2011.



Something old, something new ... nothing borrowed - Christopher Lamb

Vatican PR arrested by police protests innocence on Facebook - Sean Smith

Pursuit of power behind Vati-leaks II saga - Christopher Lamb

Two Vatican officials arrested for leaked financial documents - Sean Smith


For eight of those years Cardinal Nicora, now retired, was in charge of Apsa. He would only say that Apsa is not a bank "because it does not lend money”.

But back to the leaked documents: Nuzzi’s book, Via Crucis, contains a fascinating list from 2013 of Vatican owned apartments used by cardinals and archbishops. 

Many of them, as single men, are living in properties that are many times bigger than your average family home. 

Cardinal William Levada, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was living in an apartment which was 524 square metres which is roughly 5,640 square feet (more than an acre of space). An equivalent flat in London, as a benchmark, would cost upwards of £26m.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri has one measuring 521 square metres; Cardinal Raymond Burke has lives in a 417 square metres property.

It should be pointed out that these flats are often assigned to cardinals. 

The Pope, on the other hand, lives in a 50 square metre suite of rooms in the Casa Santa Marta. 

Becoming a poor church for the poor is not going to be easy for the Vatican.



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User comments (3)

Comment by: Laureen Casale
Posted: 11/11/2015 03:46:40

Can you give more detail on these residences.

Do they do business there, host visiting priests or others who come to work or go to school.

What would be the purpose of the Vatican purchasing such large residences.

Comment by: Jim McCrea
Posted: 09/11/2015 21:57:50

It appears that mandatory celibacy has its compensations!

Comment by: Hugh
Posted: 09/11/2015 00:21:21

I am not a great fan of many a modern papacy, but I am a great fan of good journalism.

It was Pope Benedict who began the clean up of Vatican finances.

You have to give credit where it is due, and Pope Benedict does deserve credit for that.

So to say that we now have a Pope who is serious about changing the culture around this is not true.

Pope Francis is gaining from the reforms Pope Benedict began.

I think it is important we try to respect facts.

In an otherwise good article, it begins with a statement that does not respect recent history.

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