Will compulsion succeed where conversion has failed on Vatican financial reform?

John L. Allen Jr.Crux Now Feb 18,202

ROME – When Pope Francis recently addressed the ongoing financial reform of the Vatican, he couched the argument in largely spiritual, pastoral and moral terms.

Financial breakdowns recently brought to light, the pope said, “beyond their possible criminality, are hard to reconcile with the nature and purpose of the Church, and they’ve created confusion and worry within the community of the faithful.” He was speaking to Vatican judges on the occasion of the opening of their judicial year.

Though the pope avoided specifics, the reference almost certainly was to a recent contretemps involving a $220 million land deal in London (mostly financed by collections from Peter’s Pence) in which the Vatican’s Secretariat of State allegedly tried to skirt reporting requirements for a loan intended to buy up the remaining shares of the property.

That’s an especially alarming development, given that the Secretariat of State also bears the lion’s share of responsibility for enforcing the Vatican’s own accountability and transparency measures.

Francis is indisputably right that such shenanigans are tough to square with the Church’s moral teaching or the clear injunctions of the Gospel. Yet the hard truth is that such contradictions, by themselves, rarely have been enough to spur real reform. Instead, the Church tends to react in most compelling fashion only when facing some external threat.

The rise of the great mendicant orders, for instance, came in response to the rapid urbanization of the high Middle Ages and the threat of losing the city poor. The Council of Trent, and the internal housecleaning it unleashed, were driven by the Protestant Reformation and the loss of half of Europe.

So, what’s the threat the Vatican is facing today? In a word, here it is: Money.
When Francis was elected on a reform mandate almost seven years ago, cardinals were motivated in part by a suspicion that in financial terms, the Vatican’s ship was taking on water. That’s really all it was back then, a suspicion, since no one actually knew how much money the Vatican was losing, but there was a palpable sense something was amiss.

Since then, the reality of the situation has become steadily more apparent. The Vatican is carrying a bloated and unsustainable payroll, it has extensive real estate holdings that return virtually no profit, and it faces a looming pension crisis which, if left unaddressed, could produce a financial Chernobyl all by itself.

Last October, Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi predicted that the Vatican would be bankrupt by the year 2023.

Despite the reassuring tones of Bishop Nunzio Galantino, Francis’s handpicked chief of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), that there’s no risk of going broke and all that’s needed is a spending review that’s already underway, many insiders will tell you that Fittipaldi’s projection isn’t that far off unless something dramatic changes.

Added to that already alarming scenario is the threat that due to the recent cycle of scandals and departures of key personnel associated with the reform cause, the Vatican could return to global “blacklists” of suspicious financial actors. Should that happen, it would become much more difficult for the Vatican to access international currency markets, and it would face significantly enhanced transaction costs as banks and regulators insist on rigorous due diligence measures to process any Vatican money.

That threat of returning to semi-pariah status is hardly theoretical, since this spring the Vatican faces its next round of review by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering agency and the primary gatekeeper for European states to global “whitelists” of virtuous actors. In theory, should Moneyval conclude that the Vatican is backsliding on its stated commitment to reform, failing to enforce the ambitious new laws on transparency and accountability adopted under Pope Francis, it could lead to censure from the Financial Action Task Force, the global network of anti-money laundering evaluators.

If you ever wonder whether such denunciations make any difference, consider the example of Liechtenstein. Once considered a classic example of a rogue nation, Liechtenstein was hit with a series of FATF sanctions in the late 1990s that took a significant toll.

According to the 2011 book The Money Laundry by J.C. Sharman, from 2000 to 2002 the net income of banks in the tiny country fell from $560 million to $255 million, tax collections on banking activity plummeted from $65 million to $27 million, and assets managed dropped from $114 billion to $97 billion.

“It was a real disaster,” one official was quoted as saying. “Our foundations trembled.”

The fallout got the attention of Liechtenstein’s bankers, and they cleaned up their act. (Ironically, Swiss lawyer René Brülhart, recently forced out as head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, made his reputation as director of Liechtenstein’s financial intelligence unit from 2004 to 2012, where he spearheaded the clean-up operation.)

If Pope Francis truly wants change on Vatican finances, in other words, perhaps he shouldn’t put all his eggs in the basket of metanoia and personal conversion, however desirable those things obviously are.

Maybe what he really needs right now is somebody to put a gun to the head of the system … and, as fate would have it, Moneyval may be ideally positioned to do just that very soon.

Follow John Allen on Twitter: @JohnLAllenJr


The bankruptcy of the Vatican will be a step in Gods will for its reform.

Corruption sets in where there is power, fame and money.

God removes power when he wants to reform.

I find it hard to believe that the RCC can ever be reformed.

But if it ever happens it will be through total humiliation and annihilation.


Judas was part of the plan Was he as bad as they say or was he a figurehead for the selfishness that is part of humanity. Send the Vatican to Salvatori Occhiali hi


You cannot serve both God and mammon. A spiritual truism, that; but with the uncomfortable caveat that God cannot be served without the use of mammon. The crucial thing is to correctly prioritise one over the other. And guess what? The Romanists have cocked this one up, and not for the first time in their nefarious history. Access to all that cash has turned certain holy Romanist heads (it certainly seemed to turn the head of JPII over Maciel, the Vatican’s golden goose) who have been circumventing financial ethics and regulations to play the big world version of the Las Vegas slot machine. And now payback time may be looming.

Wouldn’t it be great if Pope Francis was forced, through international financial sanctions and through bankruptcy, actually to live the poverty of his namesake rather than just mimic him?

Liked by 1 person

I was convinced mick or Linda would die. glad they didn’t. love them as a couple. Danny Dyer is also very hot and has a sexy hairy chest


I blame Phil and Keanu. if Keanu kept it in his pants none of that would have happened, and Phil should know better than seeking revenge.

Like is still down Bp Pat. Did Fr Teyrnon ever come back after falling down a stairwell and breaking his back, or was that just a cover story for running away with a seminarian to the Philippines? I think an update from St John’s is due.


oh come off it! are you for real! the real hurt is from the fact that no one dared speak the truth, EVEN though it was clear the powers that be had taken it.


I hope Bp Pat gets… well, let’s just say, to the bottom of this one day. It would be nice to know what happened to these two star-crossed lovers.


Tyernon is in Wales, looking after the Parish of Ystradgynlais, which +Menevia has decided should no longer have its own resident priest.


The parish of ‘Ystradgt…’Ystrodog…😨
Geez! Please don’t ever expect me to get that right on a Saturday night. (Hic😧)
Crikey! On ANY night. 😲


It is a sure bet that if the Vatican, and the entire Romanist Church, went bankrupt, there would be far fewer priests around. Most of these are self-serving and have no vocation (whatever that is) to serve Christ, but themselves.

Roll on bankruptcy! 👍💃


Funds have to be running low, attendance at church is down as are collections. The net is closing around the Vatican bank. It is a corrupt organisation so money has to be pouring out through the cracks. It will be interesting to see what is revealed when the tide ebbs.


Magna is right as soon as the cash flow dries up the rats will start to leave the sinking ship. If the Oratory was as well funded as the vatican I’m sure it would be awash with vocations. Free house, car, healthcare for a day or two work a week. Big financial crisis on the way here as well most dioceses are in the red.


The ghouls of hatred are surfacing, led by the monster ghoul of hate invective, Magsy the Slug. Pat jnows only too well that he nèeds mammon – money, food, clothes, a house, a car – in order to survive and evangelize. Why charge fees for varioys services he provides? He’s entitled to all donations. I do not believe more people would vunteer or put themselves forward for the Oratory under any circumstances. After 30 years plus, if men or women haven’t come forward or have been refused, there is no possibility if things being any different. The status quo as is probably suuts Pat. There is a move away from any type of organised, hierarchical church. People praying together under guidance in small groups is a start for a new time of God’s Spirit. Pat does not have the answer or panacea for all ills but there is something worthwhile in what he aspires to. Were it not for the ghoulish Mag Rag, Pat could be a greater effect for renewal in Christ.


Finances are down yet bishop bling spends 4 million on his gaff and maintains houses in leafy castle areas for his minions yet there is plenty of room in parish houses in his diocese. Seems he hasn’t either got the message, is too arrogant or just doesn’t care. Agree with Magba that there are those priests within the ranks that have no “vocation” and have taken advantage of an easy pay day. Whatever will they do when the money dries up? I hear McDonald’s are recruiting but then again children use that franchise and they may not be suitable for employment in that establishment. Spend less or nothing on their totally unnecessary fancy robes or lavish lifestyles and tighten their purse strings. But alas its too late for that. No doubt they will put more pressure on the poor to contribute more to their coffers. Their days are numbered


Mostly white, professional, university middle class types, all earnest and smiley ! Couldn’t imagine anything worse.


The core principle of capitalism is that money generates more money. For 1,500 years the Church, following Aristotle, taught that this was intrinsically immoral and against Natural Law. Yet mutatis mutandis about 500 years it stopped being an issue. Pope Leo X required cash so he gave a dispensation to the Fugger banking dynasty, and nobody bothered about this previously immutable teaching again. Though Leo’s drive for cash contributed to the Reformation by facilitating a commodities market for salvation, Protestants soon became even more enthusiastic capitalists and defenders of property.
So a corollary point would be to question why such a absolute position on usury could have been jettisoned, but the Church’s teaching on sexuality based on the same natural law arguments cannot be challenged.


Oh, it can be challenged and, indeed, is being challenged; but there is neither the financial incentive, nor the necessary freedom from neurosis about sex for the institutional Church to accept these.

Keep in mind that the Church speaks of the twin pillars of revelation as Scripture and Tradition. It is the latter, principally, that allows the Church a certain doctrinal arbitrariness, to suit the spirit of the times. Hence, the ebb and flow, the instability, of its teaching in history. Theologians, like John Henry Cardinal Newman, politely call such change in doctrine a ‘development’. Pope Francis has his own word for it, ‘evolution’. I, too, have a word for it, and another for this euphemusing of Church history. But I’m sure I needn’t tell you all what you already know.


4.10: Magna, would that word be approximate to all the ugly, stinking s***e you possess deep in your psyche? Just asking, dear lady!


Magna: It is very obvious from comments, such as that from Anon 6:37, that many criticising you here are in the bottom half of the lower sections of the intelligence quotient leagues. In plain language, they haven’t got a clue. And don’t fuss yourself trying to educate them or change their perception. They have neither wish or capacity to change.
Keep rattling their cocuuned cages.


Thanks for the tip about the Lidl port Magna 27 proof and cheap as chips very relaxing on a Sunday afternoon.


Pat, who was the Tuam deacon whose ordination to the priesthood was halted at the last minute during the Maynooth summer of love in 2016?


I’m sat on the couch, lovely big mug of tea, big roaring open fire, and waiting for DWTS. will Ray survive tonights vote?


Lucky you, we can’t see it in the UK, or on the RTE Player. I can’t even begin to imagine what his Salsa will be like.



It can be seen in this part of the UK…were a soul so minded. (Though God knows why one would want to see that big-bellied clown continue to make a total tit of himself.😕)


Pat, if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothings changed at all? But I’m going to be an optimist about this.


Well the church must be able to find solutions to its financial problems.
I personally would advocate financial transparency, stopping their priests abusing people so they don’t have to pay damages and not spending millions on bishops’ houses, but I don’t think these solutions will appeal.
Alternatively they could try prostituting seminarians (several have already had their bums exposed on the Internet anyway) and selling some of the pope’s cloth of gold frocks and some art works. These things (including the seminarians’ bums) would merely pass from one set of entitled capitalists to another, not that any cleric is overtly bothered by this obscene wealth.


“…the pope’s cloth of gold..”?
Rip Van Winkle fell asleep during the reign of Pio IX and woke up during the pontificate of Francis.


There is a burgeoning call for the church to pay worldwide exemplary compensation for those who have been harmed by paedophile priests to the tune of between £2Trillion & £5Trillion.

This correction is inevitable and will require the sale of buildings to pay the bill.

Bankruptcy is unlikely but the size of the church will reduce by between 70% & 90%

The church will have to develop a pure moral code, with truth, transparency and trust at it’s centre.

This does not need to be a negative process but instead seen as an opportunity to heal and grow.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to lay to rest the Roman Strumpet…and everyone of her collared pimps?😉
(Ack! It’s just a lovely thought, like.😆)


I note from Wiki update, Sugar-Ray got through again, Bp Pat, and trousered another 3 grand in the process.



And when you add to this (and to those other sums for celebrity appearances) the stipend he is likely still drawing from his parishoners, he’s doing very, very nicely. Thank you very much.😉

Trust me: I’m a Romanist.

You know you can.👍


I am sure he will give most of it, well, at least ten percent to the poor and the needy. His agent will also take a cut too.


9.50: Fantastic Magna. Fr. Ray is through again. Wonderful and we’ll done to him. Aren’t you just sooooooooo jeallllllous. We can feel it in your words, Bitch. Go out and sell your body for cash…


Jealous? Ha, ha, ha 😅
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it just makes me think how retarded the Irish really are when they would vote for a big-bellied, egotistical clown, who, seemingly, is fleecing his moronic Irish parishoners while makin’ loads o’ money.
JFC! 😅😅😅


Bishop Pat, I haven’t long returned from visiting my dad. He’s a diabetic with a stubbornly infected left foot. I’m very concerned about him.
Would you mind offering a Mass for him?


10.09: Magna, I thought you didn’t bieve in such practices and requests! Hypocrite but still I’ll offer mass too for your father. Your requesting Pat is like a little boy in the classroom saying – please Miss, can I have a sweet..You’re a contradiction.


Thank you.
But if you believe a Romanist priest’s disposition incidental and irrelevant, you are dangerously mistaken, despite what the Patristics have surmised.


Bishop blings accountant is heading efforts to flog off as much of his holdings as possible. Maybe the three warbling priests could do a gig for him to raise a few quid to pay for his expensive wine bill . Takings certainly are down but I bet it hasn’t affected Bling or his minions lifestyles one tiny little bit. They’re probably sipping their brandies laughing their socks off. Give it a few years and they’ll be visiting St Patrick’s soup kitchen for food, you know the one The diocese tried to impose charges on for helping feed the homeless. Karma’s a bitch


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