Matt C. Abbott
Is the Vatican Bank morally bankrupt?
By Matt C. Abbott
September 25, 2010

I must say, the Vatican Bank has a rather shady history — and it's making headlines yet again.

Catholic author and journalist Michael Brown of sums it up nicely (excerpted):

    Upon his return [from England], the pope was met by what may or may not turn out to be another scandal — an investigation by Italian authorities of the Vatican bank's chief and the impounding of $30 million of Vatican assets.

    It is too early to tell if there is merit to the investigation or whether the Italian authorities and media are playing it up as a little taste of persecution (perhaps the devil's response to the success in England). The bank chief, Ettore Gotti Edeschi, says it was all caused by an error in procedure: money transfers from one account to another that were not 'money-laundering,' which is what authorities ostensibly are guarding against.

    It was also a mistake and inexperience that some believe caused the indictment nearly thirty years ago of the late Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, an American who headed the Vatican bank who was charged as an accessory to fraudulent bankruptcy in a scandal over the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s in one of Italy's largest fraud cases. Roberto Calvi, the head of Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 in circumstances that still remain mysterious and some believe had the earmarks of a Masonic 'hit.'

    (In 1990, Archbishop Marcinkus told Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican, 'Before I die, come talk to me. I will tell you things that will curl your hair.' 'He then retired to Sun City, Arizona,' says Moynihan. 'Early in 2006, I phoned him there. 'Would it be the right time now for me to come talk to you?' I asked him. He said, 'Not yet.' A week later, I called a second time — I felt it was about time to see him, as 16 years had passed since our last meeting. 'Not yet, but soon,' he told me. A few days later, he died.')

    London investigators first ruled that Calvi committed suicide, but his family pressed for further investigation. Eventually murder charges were filed against five defendants, including a major Mafia figure, and they were tried in Rome and acquitted in 2007....

Dr. Jonathan Levy, an attorney who's represented organizations and individuals in a variety of Holocaust and Second World War-related lawsuits including banking, insurance and slave labor matters, issued the following news release on Sept. 23:

    Tuesday's seizure of $30 million from the secretive Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works) by the Italian Financial Police, and a money laundering investigation of the top men at the bank, has shook up the Holy See. While these were not the first or most spectacular allegations against the pope's bank, it does give cause for hope to a group of elderly Holocaust survivors and their heirs from former Yugoslavia.

    A 10-year-long lawsuit against the Vatican Bank over Holocaust victim gold deposited at the bank was dismissed last year by a U.S. Federal Court — not on the facts but on the legal argument that the Vatican Bank was immune from lawsuit as a sovereign organ of the Holy See.

    The Italian seizure and criminal investigation is the first time the scandal-plagued bank has been successfully interdicted. Two months ago the Holocaust survivors filed similar money laundering allegations with the European Central Bank in Frankfurt on grounds that Second World War-era victim gold from the Vatican Bank deposits may have been used in the minting of gold Vatican Euros or used on the Vatican Bank balance sheet to support the Vatican Euro program. The Vatican agreed to oversight by the European Union when it became part of the Euro Zone.

    According to the Holocaust survivors' attorney, Dr. Jonathan Levy, the European Central Bank was first contacted in early July but has yet to respond to the allegation that Vatican Bank money laundering and possession of concentration camp gold is in violation of the EU Vatican Monetary Treaty. This week's allegation strengthens the credibility of Holocaust survivors' claims against the bank.

    Dr. Levy has indicated that if the European Central Bank does not act in the next few weeks, he will take the matter to the European General Court.

In a separate e-mail to me, Dr. Levy added: "In my opinion, the Vatican Bank is the largest receiver of stolen property in the world and is not so much a bank as a worldwide fencing operation in which the Holy See takes a cut of the profits."

Related links:

Vatican Bank Claims

"'Pope Fiction': Pius XII and the Jews"

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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