Nov 15


Scandals suggest an ineffective Vatican mired in problems.

Two books are available now, Avarice and Merchants in the Temple, that blast the Vatican. Now, first we have to acknowledge that the Vatican breeds conspiracy theories worse than the Kennedy Family, but just like them not all of the theories turn out to be false. Second, we should also realize that any large organization, especially overtime, becomes somewhat institutionally broken; unable or unwilling to make the changes it needs to make in order to fulfill its goals. Finally, we have to give these reporters credit, they make a pretty good case.

Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi is the author of "Merchants" and his history with the Vatican goes way back. His last big book resulted in the arrest of the Pope's butler for selling secrets and, it is widely believed, ultimately lead to or at least exacerbated Benedict's ill health and exhaustion and subsequent resignation. More "Vatileakers" have been arrested this time around, two of Francis' financial reform commission in an investigation into stolen documents. The second book, "Avarice," by La Repubblica Vatican reporter Emiliano Fittipaldi, details financial malfeasance at the Vatican.

Accusations include a charity system, Peter's Pence, intended to help the poor that is so corrupt only about 10% of the money gets to its intended recipients, drastically underestimated property values, and a system of cronyism, mismanagement, and waste are hidden behind the secrecy of the Roman Curia - the administrative department of the Vatican. Memos from Francis himself warn the Curia gainst engaging in "intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and partiality" and acting more like a royal court than an institution of service. Last Christmas he delivered an infamous dressing down of his closest collaborators, citing the "15 ailments of the Curia" that included living "hypocritical" double lives and suffering from "spiritual Alzheimer's."

Another issue involves the super-secret organization that researches candidates for sainthood (we have talked about them before). " After the Vatican's saint-making office told the commission it had no documentation about the postulators' funding or bank accounts, the commission had the postulators' accounts frozen at the Vatican bank, Nuzzi said."

This all further stirs the rumor mill that the Roman Catholic Church is heading for real schism, by design or not. The Conspiracy Theories on that one fill the internet - don't go looking unless you have a great deal of time and a lot of incredulity. You have been warned.

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