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Vatican Bank Chief’s Free-Market Ideology and Opus Dei Background

Comment: Ettore Gotti Tedeschi–head of the Vatican Bank–espoused the free-market ideology that led to the crash of 2008. Tedeschi has also advised then Cardinal Ratzinger and helped him write an economic thesis. (Ratzinger became, of course, Pope Benedict.) Not surprisingly, Tedeschi  is a member of Opus Dei, the fascist lay Catholic order that has been ascendant in Vatican politics.

Once again, the Vatican Bank has come under investigation for money laundering. As noted in past posts, the lawyer currently assisting the Vatican in cases related to child molestation had previously defended the Vatican Bank in a Holocaust-related lawsuit.

A primary investor in Nazi industry, the Vatican Bank has long been involved with financing fascism.

“Pope’s Banker Faces Inquiry over ‘Money Laundering'” by Michael Day; independent.co.uk; 9/22/2010.

Excerpt: The Vatican, still picking up the pieces after the global paedophilia scandal, was yesterday rocked by news that the heads of its bank are under investigation in connection with a £20m money laundering probe.

Vatican Bank president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and director-general Paolo Cipriani are being investigated following two transactions that were reported as “suspicious”, police sources said.

The transactions on 15 September are thought to involve €20m sent to the German bank JP Morgan in Frankfurt, and €3m sent to a central-Italian bank, the Banca del Fucino. The funds have been seized by Italian authorities. . . .

Mr Gotti Tedeschi is a member of the ultra-conservative religious movement Opus Dei, and an outspoken advocate of the need for greater morality in finance. [Italics are mine–D.E.] . . .

Yesterday’s revelations, which come just days after Pope Benedict completed his controversial tour of Britain, are only the latest in a series of incidents that have raised doubts about the financial integrity of the bank, however. . . .

The Vatican Bank, after a series of scandals stretching back to the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s, is under pressure to adopt new financial standards following a 2009 push by the G20 nations for greater transparency.

The IOR said it been working “for some time” with the Bank of Italy and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development “for the Holy See’s inclusion in the so-called White List” – an OECD designation for countries that apply international tax regulations. The Bank of Italy has declared that transactions with banks such as the IOR, which are not on the White List, will be subject to greater scrutiny. . . .


6 comments for “Vatican Bank Chief’s Free-Market Ideology and Opus Dei Background”

  1. According to this article, Ettore Tedeschi was converted into a “fervent” Catholic under the spiritual guidance of Giovani Cantoni, leader of the far-right “Alleanza Cattolica”:

    The Vatican Bank Has a New Laissez-Faire President: Ettore Gotti Tedeschi

    The new president of the IOR is a staunch proponent of a capitalism inspired by Christianity. For him, a high birth rate is the main engine of the economy. Meanwhile, in Italy, another important replacement is being prepared: at the head of the media outlets owned by the bishops

    by Sandro Magister

    The Vatican Bank Has a New Laissez-Faire President: Ettore Gotti Tedeschi

    The new president of the IOR is a staunch proponent of a capitalism inspired by Christianity. For him, a high birth rate is the main engine of the economy. Meanwhile, in Italy, another important replacement is being prepared: at the head of the media outlets owned by the bishops

    by Sandro Magister

    ROME, October 1, 2009 – At the same time when in Italy, between August and September, a dramatic ouster was underway for Dino Boffo, the sole director of the media owned by the Catholic Church, on the other shore of the Tiber there were silent, subdued preparations for a change at the top of another key organization, the IOR, Institute for Works of Religion, the Vatican bank.

    The IOR itself is going through stormy times. A book describing its misconduct, with indisputable documentation, has for months been at the top of the best-seller lists. But in it, the villain is not so much the IOR as such, but its black sheep of former times, bishops Paul Marcinkus and Donato De Bonis. The banker Angelo Caloia, president of the IOR over the past fourteen years, is instead depicted in the book as a knight in shining armor, the hero who kicked out the crooks, cleaned out the stalls, and brought a virtuous image back to the pope’s bank. His resignation, and his replacement by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi (in the photo), were announced in peace and with mutual esteem between the two, on the morning of September 23.

    Before his appointment, Gotti Tedeschi had never set foot in the IOR, or even paid any attention to it. But he had already been at home at the Vatican for some time. Secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone had asked for his help last year, to straighten out the financial management of the Vatican’s central administration, which had a shortfall of more than 15 million euro in 2008.

    The cure seems to have worked. A culprit of the mismanagement, the secretary general of the administration, Bishop Renato Boccardo, was sent away to be bishop of Spoleto and Norcia. He had aspired to one of the top nunciature positions, and because of this had even turned down the see of Vienna. In his place now is Carlo Maria Viganò, from Lombardy, who will soon rise to the highest position of the central administration, replacing Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo.

    Gotti Tedeschi was formed as a banker in the American McKinsey school of international finance. As a Catholic, he converted from “superficial” to fervent in the 1960’s, under the spiritual direction of the traditionalist thinker Giovanni Cantoni. The books that revealed his thought to the general public are “Denaro e Paradiso [Money and Paradise],” published in 2004, with a preface by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and “Spiriti animali. La concorrenza giusta [Animal Spirits: The Right Kind of Competition],” published by Università Bocconi and with a preface by Alessandro Profumo, president of the largest Italian bank, Unicredit.

    It turns out that Giovanni Cantoni is also closely affiliated with the far-right “Tradition, Family, Property” (TFP). The TFP and Mr. Cantoni appear to have to rather interesting views regarding to the return of nobility as the official “ruling class” of society. Here’s a 1993 review of a book written by TFP’s founder, Plinio Correa de Oliveira (with fawning remarks by Mr. Cantoni), that might partially explain why the TFP is considered controversial:

    Italian Nobility Rejoices at Launching of TFP Book

    Its Doctrinal Arsenal Is Enormously Strengthened

    Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s latest book, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII, has been launched in yet another country: Italy.
    Tradition, Family and Property, November-December 1993, York (PA), pages 2-5

    Never has the country stood in more need of such a work. Published by Marzorati Editore of Milan—firm famous for high-quality historical and cultural works—the book’s Italian edition appears, coincidentally, or better, providentially, right as the country traverses a deep political crisis termed “Tangentopoli” (“Kickback City”) by those striving to remove a ruling class widely besmirched by corruption scandals.

    Inasmuch as corruption is the root cause of the Italian crisis, one cannot but conclude that this is more than a political crisis; it is a moral crisis. But what is more discouraging and worrisome, many analysts argue, is that no alternative, credible ruling class is available to reverse the trend to­ward self-disintegration and lead the Italian people toward the goals of a sound common good.

    In this context one can readily appreciate the immense value of Professor Corrêa de Oliveira’s work. It offers a solution for the crisis by explaining the meritorious role of the nobility in leading and shaping society through the centuries. Unlike less privileged countries, Italy can still count on a numerous and experienced nobility, which needs only to rediscover its mission and function.

    Millions of worried Italians may have therefore sighed with relief on October 31 when RAI 1 (Italy’s most important TV network) provided prime-time coverage of the launching of Professor Corrêa de Oliveira’s book in Rome.

    The launching had been held the day before at an international conference where leading members of the Italian aristocracy officially announced their candidacy for participation in the national leadership. Is it possible that Italians glimpsed a dim light at the end of their dark tunnel and recognized the alternative class able to overcome “Tangentopoli”?

    “We will be the new Italian ruling class,” stated Prince Sforza Ruspoli, one of the speakers at the symposium jointly sponsored by Rome’s Centro Culturale Lepanto and Tradition, Family, Property—Italy Bureau under the patronage of Cardinals Alfons Stickler and Silvio Oddi.

    About 250 distinguished guests attended the conference in the grand “Sala del Baldachino” of the magnificent palace of Princess Elvina Pallavicini, perhaps the most representative member of the Roman aristocracy. Among those present were ranking clergymen, scholars, diplomats and journalists, but, as one would expect, most of the audience were nobles, including Archduke Martin von Habsburg of Austria, Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duke of Calabria, Princess Urraca of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Marquis Aldo Pezzana Capranica del Grillo, Duke Giovan Pietro Caffarelli (President of the Associa­tion of Italian Nobility), Princes Carlo and Fabrizio Mas­simo, Baron Roberto Selvaggi, Countess Elena Caccia Dominioni and Marquis Luigi Coda Nunziante.

    Similar enthusiasm was shown at a November presenta­tion in Palermo honored by the participation of several of the most prominent members of the Sicilian nobility.

    But at the Rome symposium the Italian nobility unequivocally claimed its role in national leadership for the first time since the downfall of the monarchy. So much so that a full-page report in Italy’ s largest newspaper, La Repubblica (10/31/93), described the event as a “veritable cavalry charge, a counterattack.” (Unprecedented numbers of nobles most certainly took part, either as candidates or as supporters, in Rome’s municipal elections on December 5. Their names are laden with history and tradition and need no comment: Barberini, Orsini, Chigi, Borghese and others.)

    According to Pius XII’s teachings, the nobility has a fundamental role to play in contem­porary society. When the ruling elites of so many countries are suffering a serious credibility crisis, the nobility must strive more than ever to fulfill this role by leading an exemplary life and serving the common good in the most selfless manner. In this way they will be a model for the rest of society.

    Clearly echoing the Pope’s message as set out in the book, in his words at the Rome launching Prince Sforza Ruspoli called on all the members of the aristocracy to overcome their divisions and unite under the Papal leadership in the name of the people, who “want to see the values of prayer, action, and sacrifice, of which our ancestors—saints, leaders and heroes— gave testimony at the price of their life.” Furthermore, Prince Ruspoli said, “I wish to express to Professor Plinio how grateful and indebted we are as Rome’ s aristocracy, and therefore as an aristocracy faithful to the Church, for his work.”

    In his speech Giovanni Cantoni, head of the Alleanza Cattolica, stated that since Papal social teachings are part of the Church’s moral Magisterium according to John Paul II, Professor Corrêa de Oliveira’s brilliant commentaries on Pius XII’s allocutions to the Roman Nobility should be regarded as integral to the moral theology of the Church.

    In his turn, the renowned political analyst Prof. Domenico Fisichella stressed the historical role of the nobility and other traditional elites as moderating elements for an ideal relationship between the monarch and the people. He also demonstrated how contemporary elites, unable to perpetuate this function, easily become oligarchies.

    Out with the old, in with the really old. It’s New Progress.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 25, 2012, 9:39 pm
  2. Great find, Pterrafractyl.

    TFP is one of those organizations that wields great power in both Europe and Latin America, Argentina in particular.

    The European nobility are laying in wait, anticipating the day when the fascist cadres can clear the way for their return as participants in a global fascist system.

    Posted by Dave Emory | January 26, 2012, 12:55 am
  3. So it looks like Mr. Tedeschi’s anti-corruption campaign, might be a little corrupt:

    Top archbishop ‘denounces Vatican corruption’
    By – | AFP – Wed, Jan 25, 2012

    A top Vatican official who is now the envoy to Washington denounced corruption and waste in the management of the Holy See in letters to Pope Benedict XVI, Italian media reported on Wednesday.

    Carlo Maria Vigano was secretary general of the governorate of the Vatican — the person in charge of the administration — until October, when he was named ambassador to the United States in what was seen as a demotion.

    In extracts from the letters published in Corriere della Sera and Libero, Vigano said he had faced a “disastrous” situation when he became head of the governorate in 2009 and said his transfer to Washington was “punishment”.

    “My transfer is causing disarray and discouragement among those who believed it was possible to resolve the numerous situations of corruption and waste” in the Vatican, he reportedly said in one letter to the pope in March 2011.

    Much of his criticism was focused on a Vatican financial committee that includes the head of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. He said the bankers were favouring “their interests” more than the Vatican’s.

    In one financial operation by the bankers that went wrong, the Vatican made a net loss of 2.5 million euros ($3.2 million), the archbishops said.

    He was also highly critical of the cost of basic technical services and said construction contracts for Vatican buildings were always going to the same companies for tariffs that were more than twice as high as in Italy.

    He said other cardinals in the Vatican “knew the situation well”.

    How shocking.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 26, 2012, 10:55 am
  4. @Dave: Pretty scary stuff, Dave. I should point out to anyone viewing this who may not be familiar with your work that fascist-monarchist collaboration isn’t anything new; In fact Umberto II was pretty much allowed free reign under Mussolini last time I checked.

    Posted by Steven L. | January 26, 2012, 1:54 pm
  5. “Vatileaks”, heh. Don’t slip on the manna puddle!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 18, 2012, 5:16 pm
  6. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/13/us-vatican-scandal-idUSTRE81C0ZL20120213

    “Monsignors’ mutiny” revealed by Vatican leaks

    By Philip Pullella

    VATICAN CITY | Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:10am EST

    (Reuters) – Call it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons.

    “It is a total mess,” said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity.

    The Machiavellian maneuvering and machinations that have come to light in the Vatican recently are worthy of a novel about a sinister power struggle at a medieval court.

    Senior church officials interviewed this month said almost daily embarrassments that have put the Vatican on the defensive could force Pope Benedict to act to clean up the image of its administration – at a time when the church faces a deeper crisis of authority and relevance in the wider world.

    Some of those sources said the outcome of a power struggle inside the Holy See may even have a longer-term effect, on the choice of the man to succeed Benedict when he dies.

    From leaked letters by an archbishop who was transferred after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, to a leaked poison pen memo which puts a number of cardinals in a bad light, to new suspicions about its bank, Vatican spokesmen have had their work cut out responding.

    The flurry of leaks has come at an embarrassing time – just before a usually joyful ceremony this week known as a consistory, when Benedict will admit more prelates into the College of Cardinals, the exclusive men’s club that will one day pick the next Roman Catholic leader from among their own ranks.

    “This consistory will be taking place in an atmosphere that is certainly not very glorious or exalting,” said one bishop with direct knowledge of Vatican affairs.

    The sources agreed that the leaks were part of an internal campaign – a sort of “mutiny of the monsignors” – against the pope’s right-hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

    Bertone, 77, has a reputation as a heavy-handed administrator and power-broker whose style has alienated many in the Curia, the bureaucracy that runs the central administration of the 1.3 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church.

    He came to the job, traditionally occupied by a career diplomat, in 2006 with no experience of working in the church’s diplomatic corps, which manages its international relations. Benedict chose him, rather, because he had worked under the future pontiff, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office.

    “It’s all aimed at Bertone,” said a monsignor in a key Vatican department who sympathizes with the secretary of state and who sees the leakers as determined to oust him. “It’s very clear that they want to get rid of Bertone.”

    Vatican sources say the rebels have the tacit backing of a former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, an influential power-broker in his own right and a veteran diplomat who served under the late Pope John Paul II for 15 years.

    “The diplomatic wing feels that they are the rightful owners of the Vatican,” the monsignor who favors Bertone said.

    Sodano and Bertone are not mutual admirers, to put it mildly. Neither has commented publicly on the reports.


    The Vatican has been no stranger to controversy in recent years, when uproar over its handling of child sex abuse charges has hampered the church’s efforts to stem the erosion of congregations and priestly recruitment in the developed world.

    But the latest image crisis could not be closer to home.

    It began last month when an Italian television investigative show broadcast private letters to Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of the Vatican City and currently the Vatican ambassador in Washington.

    The letters, which the Vatican has confirmed are authentic, showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to contractors at inflated prices.

    As deputy governor of the Vatican City for two years from 2009 to 2011, Vigano was the number two official in a department responsible for maintaining the tiny city-state’s gardens, buildings, streets, museums and other infrastructure, which are managed separately from the Italian capital which surrounds it.

    In one letter, Vigano writes of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures and begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.

    Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.

    Other leaks center on the Vatican bank, just as it is trying to put behind it past scandals – including the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, which entangled it in lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi – “God’s banker.”

    Today, the Vatican bank, formally known at the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), is aiming to comply fully with international norms and has applied for the Vatican’s inclusion on the European Commission’s approved “white list” of states that meet EU standards for total financial transparency.

    Bertone was instrumental in putting the bank’s current executives in place and any lingering suspicion about it reflects badly on him. The Commission will decide in June and failure to make the list would be an embarrassment for Bertone.


    Last week, an Italian newspaper that has published some of the leaks ran a bizarre internal Vatican memo that involved one cardinal complaining about another cardinal who spoke about a possible assassination attempt against the pope within 12 months and openly speculated on who the next pope should be.

    Bertone’s detractors say he has packed the Curia with Italian friends. Some see an attempt to influence the election of the next pope and increase the chances that the papacy returns to Italy after two successive non-Italian popes who have broken what had been an Italian monopoly for over 450 years.

    Seven of the 18 new “cardinal electors” — those aged under 80 eligible to elect a pope — at this Saturday’s consistory are Italian. Six of those work for Bertone in the Curia.

    Bertone, as chief administrator, had a key role in advising the pope on the appointments, which raised eyebrows because of the high number of Italian bureaucrats among them.

    “There is widespread malaise and delusion about Bertone inside the Curia. It is full of complaints,” said the bishop who has close knowledge of Vatican affairs.

    “Bertone has had a very brash method of running the Vatican and putting his friends in high places. People could not take it any more and said ‘enough’ and that is why I think these leaks are coming out now to make him look bad,” he said.


    Leaked confidential cables sent to the State Department by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican depicted him as a “yes man” with no diplomatic experience or linguistic skills and the 2009 cable suggests that the pope is protected from bad news.

    “There is also the question of who, if anyone, brings dissenting views to the pope’s attention,” read the cable, published by WikiLeaks.

    The Vatican sources said some cardinals asked the pope to replace Bertone because of administrative lapses, including the failure to warn the pope that a renegade bishop re-admitted to the Church in 2009 was a well-known Holocaust denier.

    But they said the pope, at 84 and increasingly showing the signs of his age, is not eager to break in a new right-hand man.

    “It’s so complicated and the pope is so helpless,” said the monsignor.

    The bishop said: “The pope is very isolated. He lives in his own world and some say the information he receives is filtered. He is interested in his books and his sermons but he is not very interested in government.”

    (Editing by Jon Boyle and Alastair Macdonald)

    Posted by Vanfield | February 19, 2012, 10:28 pm

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