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Old 10-12-2019, 09:17 PM   #1
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Default A Vatican money mystery that leads back to London

A Vatican money mystery that leads back to London

The Vatican police “raided” offices in the Secretariat of State and the financial oversight office known as the Financial Information Authority (AIF) last week. Five officials were suspended: four lay people and one monsignor. The incident made headlines, and then fell off the radar pretty quickly. Why?

Part of the reason is that it has been tough to get details regarding the case. L’Espresso reported that the seizure of documents and hardware from the Secretariat of State and the suspensions were in connection with a series of operations related to a €200 million (£178 million, $247 million) real estate deal in London gone sideways. Beyond saying that the Vatican police took documents and hardware in connection with an ongoing investigation and acknowledging the reported suspensions, the Vatican has offered no details regarding the case.

In response to inquiries from the Catholic Herald, Matteo Bruni, director of the Press Office of the Holy See, said: “For the moment there is nothing we will add to the press release we gave on October 1.”

That press release was thin on details, to say the least. “This [Tuesday] morning,” it said, “activities of acquisition of documents and electronic apparatus were effected in the First Section of the Secretariat of State and the Financial Information Authority. The operation, authorised with a decree of the Promoter of Justice of the [Vatican City] Tribunal, Gian Piero Milano, and the Adjunct, Alessandro Diddi, of which the Superiors were duly informed, is connected to complaints presented at the beginning of last summer by the Institute for the Works of Religion [the IOR, commonly known as the Vatican Bank] and by the Office of the Auditor General, regarding financial operations conducted over time.”

Subsequent reporting by L’Espresso claimed that the transactions in question relate to a deal that has its roots in an investment opportunity with which emissaries of the Italian financier Raffaele Mincione presented the Vatican in 2011/2012, for a package including a 45 per cent stake in a property in the exclusive London district of Kensington. This was reportedly pitched as promising a 10 per cent annual return on its nearly €200 million price tag. The Secretariat of State liked the deal, and bought in, possibly using monies from the Peter’s Pence collection.

To simplify a complicated story, according to L’Espresso, the investment wasn’t performing as well as promised. Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the new Sostituto for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State, wanted to extricate the Holy See from a part of the deal involving Mincione-controlled funds and holding companies in Luxembourg, and acquire the rest of the London property. L’Espresso alleged that Archbishop Peña needed cash for that, and asked the IOR to come up with it. The IOR’s leadership were not satisfied with either the terms of Archbishop Peña’s proposal or with the manner in which the archbishop used the IOR as a money spigot, and eventually complained to magistrates.

The Auditor General also got involved, and here we are: with unanswered questions about an underperforming investment made through complex transactions involving several different interests.

What gives? The names of some Vatican bigwigs close to the affair are known to the public in other connections. Archbishop Peña, who featured in a note from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò over the summer, is one. His predecessor in the Sostituto’s office, Angelo Becciu, on whose watch the deal went down, is now the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and a cardinal. Another figure, Mgr Alberto Perlasca, a former office manager in the First Section for General Affairs at State and now the chief prosecutor at the Church’s highest court, is also reportedly someone who might be of interest to investigators. His successor in State, Mgr Mauro Carlino (who also served as Becciu’s secretary), is among the suspended officials.

In fact, only one of the five people suspended from their positions pending further investigation had any power to do anything on his own: Mgr Carlino. The lay employees were not in positions of responsibility. They are all people who implement decisions taken at higher rungs of the ladder, rather than actually making the decisions.

The known facts of the business just don’t add up. Consider first the IOR’s decision to contact prosecutors about the watchdog authority. Now look at the Secretariat of State’s alleged financial manoeuvres afterwards. In a functional system, the watchdog would be putting the brakes on deals like the one that the State reportedly entered into. That, however, would require an agency with real power to oversee.

From the outside looking in, the whole kerfuffle appears to be an internal power struggle. We know the IOR is at pains to project its image as a properly functioning institution, and we know that the Auditor General’s office is not pleased at having its wings repeatedly clipped. We also know that the Secretariat of State is jealous of its territory and does not like people poking about its bailiwick. It is likely that what we saw last week was only the tip of the iceberg, but the size and contours of the thing remain largely unfathomed.

https://catholicherald.co.uk/magazin...ack-to-london/
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: A Vatican money mystery that leads back to London

Godfather III ???????
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:42 PM   #3
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Default Re: A Vatican money mystery that leads back to London

NEW YORK - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has taken the world by storm through her climate strikes, is practically a household name, even receiving Pope Francis’s encouragement for her efforts demanding global action on the environment.

Lesser known - but also enjoying Vatican backing and U.N. support - is the work of 30-year-old, Molly Burhans, who while initially discerning to be a nun, discovered that the Catholic Church is one of the world’s largest landowners and is now seeking to steward such property - and the data that goes with it - for the common good.

Last month, Burhans was the recipient of the United Nations’ Young Champions of the Earth Prize for North America becoming the first faith-based organization to receive such an honor for her work in founding Goodlands, an organization which is now mapping the Church’s global real estate holdings to help better understand climate change, migration, and a range of interconnected ecological concerns.

While explaining her work, Burhans likes to cite the luminary writer J.R.R. Tolkien who once remarked that he “wisely started with a map.”

“That’s the way to understand the environment and we can’t make sound environmental decisions without them,” she said in an interview with Crux.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Burhans, who took part alongside Thunberg in the New York City climate strike and was one of the presenters at the annual high-level Social Good Summit last month aimed at promoting environmental activism and expertise.

While volunteering at a local convent during college, Burhans observed two large parcels of land bequeathed to the religious order only to realize that the convent, like most Catholic institutions, had no proper way of tracking or accounting for all of their land holdings.

Most dioceses in the United States and beyond are in a similar predicament, not to mention the Vatican itself.

During a visit to Rome, Burhans sheepishly approached the Vatican’s Secretary of State to see if she might be able to partner with them in an effort to digitize the Church’s maps. In 2015, she launched Goodlands and a year later unveiled the first ever database of maps of the Catholic Church.

“When I started no one seemed to have an understanding of what a map is beyond a fresco,” she told Crux, recalling her early days working with Church officials.

The power of these maps, she believes will help other Catholic institutions, such as NGOs, schools, and other dioceses, better understand Catholic infrastructure and demographics.

In sum, the Church owns an estimated 177 million acres of land. While such ownership presents all sorts of challenges regarding oversight and maintenance, Burhans sees an incredible opportunity.

“It offers the possibility of holistic planning,” she said of the power of maps.

Burhans describes the Church as a “low-tech actor,” but she’s hoping to change that, citing Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’, as helping to restore a proper understanding of technology as something that can be used in service of people and the planet.

While Burhans wasn’t raised in an explicitly religious environment - her parents had left the Church when she was young - her study of philosophy at Canisius College would eventually nudge her back toward the Catholic Church.

“The Catholic Church had me at systematic theology,” she said, describing the “cosmic sigh of relief” she found in the faith, leading her to find herself “so reluctantly in love with Catholicism and with Jesus.”

As she inched toward confirmation, she began the Ignatian spiritual exercises, which cemented her love of Jesuit spirituality - and was bolstered by the witness of the world’s first ever Jesuit pope.

“Pope Francis allowed me not to be afraid to come back to the Church,” she says.

She cites Laudato si’ and the 2016 Year of Mercy as both the spiritual and intellectual backbone of Goodlands.

“Laudato si’ shows how life, land, and the environment are all connected and how Catholic Social Teaching relates to the environment,” she told Crux. “And the Year of Mercy was absolutely critical for welcoming me back to the Church for all of her flaws and graces.”

Over the past three years, she’s spent countless hours on the phone with Catholic dioceses inquiring about property records and writing letters to Vatican curial officials to navigate canon law in the digital age with the belief that the combination of ecological and social data can help the Church “scale up” its efforts to better understand its land.

“The way we understand and manage our land is a multiplier for every singe Catholic ministry,” she insists. “If we want to talk about feeding the hungry, we need a place to grow that food. If we want to talk about clothing the naked, those resources are based in the land. The land is our common home.”

As one of only seven young people to receive the U.N.’s Young Champions of the Earth award, she will now receive more funding and training in an effort to continue to ramp of her efforts to lead the Church into the digital age.

Although she recognizes that some Catholics are wary of the U.N., writing it off as “big, bureaucratic, and inefficient,” she’s encouraging them not “to throw the whole thing out,” and to be grateful for its partnership with faith inspired institutions and organizations.

“This is motivated for love of neighbor,” Burhans is quick to point out. “And what you do to your neighbor downstream has a moral dimension.”

While individuals ranging from high ranking Vatican officials to local pastors are quick to solicit her help and are inundating her with requests to take advantage of the technology she’s helped to develop, she’s hoping that the Catholic community will also put their money where their mouth is in supporting the work of Goodlands.

“The only group that hasn’t come to table is donors,” she said, noting that besides technical contractors, she is the sole employee of the non-profit.

Following last month’s climate strikes - which drew some 4 million participants to the streets in cities across the globe - some skeptics were quick to point out Thunberg’s young age, labeling her as naïve in her belief that young people can successfully lobby international institutions and bring about change and were brainwashed regarding the facts of climate change.

But Burhans - and by extension Thunberg - believe that they’re simply following the science and responding with human empathy.

“I don’t just see data and numbers, I see people’s lives,” she insists. “And that’s what Greta is doing, too. We feel the data.”

“We aren’t in it for awards,” she continues. “We’re in it because we love our neighbors.”


https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-us...limate-change/
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: A Vatican money mystery that leads back to London

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Old Yesterday, 08:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: A Vatican money mystery that leads back to London

I'd suggest she and her associates become educated in the innerworkings of the "Arkancide protocol".
She keeps outing the underhanded fish eater activities, and she may suffer a case of the "Seth Rich syndrome".
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