The truth about the Vatican’s money
I’ve lost track of the number of times people have told me about the ‘enormous wealth of the Vatican’. Some are confused: they think the Vatican owns all the Church’s worldwide real estate, lock, stock and barrel. Others think that all that art could be sold for the poor without adverting to the difficulty of selling Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling or the rooms containing the Stanze of Raphael.
Most just think the Vatican is corrupt and busy laundering vast sums of Mafia money through the ‘Vatican Bank’. The papacy hasn’t helped itself with its insistence on an absurd level of secrecy and its earlier involvement with criminals like Sindona and Calvi.
Well, now for the first time we actually have some hard facts.
Benedict XVI has been determined to clean up the Holy See’s finances. In February 2011 he called in the Council of Europe’s experts on anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, Moneyval. Moneyval and their 241 page July 2012 report (plus annexes) gives us an enormous trove of factual material about the Vatican.
Before dealing with the money, some other interesting facts. As Moneyval says ‘although the Holy See (HS) is not a state in itself, it has sovereignty over the Vatican City State (VCS) which is the smallest sovereign state in the world’. It is the HS, not the VCS, which is officially recognised by governments like Australia. [more]