As the man charged with cleaning out the stables at the scandal-struck Vatican bank, Monsignor Battista Ricca will need Machiavellian cunning, good fortune and a whiter-than-white record to have even a fighting chance.
But Pope Francis’s new banker appears to possess none of these attributes after it was reported yesterday that he was found stuck in a lift with a rent boy. Msgr Ricca, as Francis’s new primate with responsibility for the troubled financial institution, known officially as the IoR (Institute for Religious Works), is supposed to usher in new transparency and badly needed reforms after years of financial scandal.
Earlier this month, a major report from finance police and magistrates warned that a lack of checks and controls by the IoR and the Italian financial institutions it had dealings with made the Vatican’s bank a money-laundering hot spot.
It is claimed that Msgr Ricca, 57, impressed Francis with the way he ran three key residences used by cardinals, bishops and priests visiting Rome. But detailed claims have emerged detailing how in 1999, Ricca took a Vatican diplomatic posting in Uruguay and moved his lover, Patrick Haari, a Swiss army captain, in with him, to the outrage of church figures and locals in the conservative South American nation. Captain Haari was forced out by the hardline Polish nuncio Janusz Bolonek in 2001.
But there were more problems for Ricca when he was attacked in a cruising ground that year, and soon after firemen had to rescue him from a broken lift, in which he was trapped with a youth known by local police. The weekly news magazine L’Espresso claims that Msgr Ricca was able to get the position as IoR prelate because the supposedly powerful “gay lobby” in the Vatican airbrushed his colourful CV.
Gay sex scandals at the Vatican have made the headlines before. In 2010 it emerged that one of Pope Benedict’s ceremonial ushers and a member of the Vatican choir were involved in a gay prostitution ring.
Vatican spokesman Padre Federico Lombardi sought to dismiss the claims about Msgr Ricca’s private life. “What has been claimed about Msgr Ricca is not credible,” he said. Msgr Ricca himself has not yet responded to the allegations. But La Repubblica noted that the Vatican had emphasised that his appointment as prelate for the IoR was technically an interim one, thus raising the possibility that the job might not last long.
The UN has called on the Vatican to hand over details in the cases of tens of thousands of children allegedly abused by clergy.
The list, published on the committee’s website earlier this week, calls on the Vatican to give “detailed information” on cases of alleged abuse “committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns”.
The committee said it wanted to know what measures the Church has put in place to ensure clergy members accused of sexual abuse were cut off from contact with children.
It has also asked what support has been given to victims of sexual abuse by the Holy See.
Moreover, the UN has requested details where kids “were silenced in order to minimise the risk of public disclosure” and what measures the Vatican has taken to prevent further abuse.
The UN has long raised concerns about the ongoing paedophile priest scandal, but the committee’s list represents its most far-reaching request for information about the cases.
Pope Francis has vowed to “act with determination in cases of sexual abuse”.
His predecessor Benedict XVI was the first pontiff to apologise to victims.
However, campaigners have argued that Vatican words outstrip action when it comes to tackling the widespread problem of abuse and subsequent cover-ups.
The list also includes questions about other issues, including its labelling of kids born outside wedlock as “illegitimate”.
The latest scandal is less grisly, but equally bizarre. On July 1st the IOR’s director, Paolo Cipriani, and his deputy, Massimo Tulli, resigned three days after the Italian authorities arrested and jailed aVatican cleric, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano. He …
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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican posted a 2.2 million euro ($2.85 million) budget surplus for 2012, an improvement from the previous year and some good news as it struggles to cope with a scandalinvolving its embattled bank. In its annual financial …
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… and deposition testimony from Cardinal and Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who during his time of Milwaukee’s archbishop between 2002 and 2009 appealed to the the Vatican on numerous occasions to help address the fallout from the scandal.
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Vatican financial watchdog now part of network
Malta Independent Online
Nonetheless, the Vatican is reeling under a spate of scandals, including one in which a Vaticanaccountant is jailed in Rome while prosecutors probe an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) in cash in a private plane from Switzerland …
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Vatican Scandal: First Money, Now Sex. Only Five Sins left!
The ongoing Vatican Scandal (now Scandals) is probably causing Pope Francis to wonder whether getting the job was such a great idea. Of course, scandal in the Catholic Church is nothing new. His predecessors had more than their fair share, so he is …
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Vatican Bank Managers Resign Amid Broadening Financial Scandal
The director and deputy director of the Vatican bank resigned yesterday as a series of investigations lead to a renewal of the Church’s financial structures. Paolo Cipriani and his deputy Massimo Tulli stepped down “in the best interest of the …
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Vatican sex abuse scandal: Priests paid to leave
Christian Science Monitor
Newly released documents show the cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York, in his former job, repeatedly warned the Vatican office responsible for handling clergy sex abuse of the potential forscandal in Milwaukee and urged it to defrock abusive priests.
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|Two Vatican Bank Officials Resign Amid Latest Wave of Scandals
The Atlantic Wire
Von Freyberg became the IRW’s president in February, as one of the last acts of the now emeritus Pope Benedict XVII before he left his post. He’s a German lawyer and a member of the Knights of Malta, and Benedict tapped him for the job with the hope …
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|Heads of Vatican Bank resign following recent scandals
According to the Vatican’s official statement, the IOR’s director Paolo Cipriani and deputy director Massimo Tulli, both laymen, tendered their resignation ‘in the best interest of the Institute and the Holy See.’ German businessman Ernst von Freyberg …
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Silverio Sica, lawyer for Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, said his client is accused of fraud, corruption and other charges stemming from the plot, which never got off the ground.
Mr Sica said that Scarano was a middleman in the operation. Friends asked him to intervene with a broker, Giovanni Carenzio, to return 20 million euro they had given him to invest.
Mr Sica said Scarano persuaded Carenzio to return the money, and an Italian secret service agent, Mario Zito, went to Switzerland to return it on board an Italian government aircraft.
He said the plot failed because Carenzio reneged. Carenzio and Zito have also been arrested
The new Pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been charming the media and public alike with his easy-going approachable manner and simple lifestyle, but this same absence of bloated pomp and crazed hubris is allegedly ‘wearing bloody thin’ among his colleagues at the Vatican’
‘It was all a bit of a novelty at first,’ admitted Cardinal Sergio Venturi, dripping in signet rings and flanked on either side by the Swiss Guard. ‘The first thing he did when he was elected was to get an OAP pass for the municipal pool. We all thought it was rather sweet in a third world kind of way.’
‘But it gets to you after a while; we had the Dalai Lama over last week and where did His Holiness want to hold a banquet in his honour? Only ‘Il Harvestore’ again! There I was, having to explain to Tibetan Buddhism’s supreme spiritual leader about the concept of an unlimited salad bar.’
‘And if your esteemed guest wishes to visit the Ice Cream Factory for afters, order yourself a bloody crème brulee; don’t just sit there nodding benignly while the fourteenth incarnation of the Bodhisattva picks off his marshmallows.’
Another Vatican insider who wished not to be identified went even further: ‘The Holy Roman Church has a long tradition of sickening excess and sociopathic power-brokering. We have toppled whole kingdoms on a single Pontiff’s whim. Anything that stood in our way we crushed under our heel. Il Papa has got this glorious heritage and basically he’s pissing it up a wall. Ungrateful, or what?’
The Head of the Worldwide Catholic Church – or ‘Acting Chairperson’ as His Holiness has taken to calling himself – was unavailable for comment at time of going to press. He was said to be ‘lending a hand with an ecumenical Meals on Wheels service. Or something equally crap.’
The Vatican has just announced that, despite what Pope Francis said in his homily earlier this week, atheists are still going to hell.
What a relief. For a brief moment there it was possible to imagine a brave new world of compassion, generosity and acceptance, not qualities we have come to associate with the Holy See.
Said Pope Francis this week: ‘The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!’
That seemed like a pretty clear admission that people of other faiths and none have intrinsic worth to God and will be saved alongside the faithful. But this turned out to be wishful thinking.
Although they are otherwise good, moral people they are still doomed to burn in a lake of fire for having the temerity to have been born outside of Catholicism or having chosen to remain so.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, spelled it out for the world on Thursday. People who know about the Catholic church ‘cannot be saved’ if they ‘refuse to enter her or remain in her,’ he said.
So that’s one tall order of eternal hellfire for the rest of us, then.
It makes for an interesting spectacle to see the infallible pope being corrected by his handlers, doesn’t it? For a moment it was possible to recall the welcoming and indulgent style of the short lived Pope John Paul I in the unexpectedly all-embracing words of Pope Francis. But you’ll recall how quickly John Paul I was replaced by the much more doctrinaire John Paul II.
There’s no question that Pope Francis sees the divinity in all human beings, but that’s a message that comes with caveats. God may make them all, Jew and Gentile, but unless they’re Catholic they’re ultimately kindling. The Vatican waited 24 hours to correct him, but they corrected him.
Yes, yes, the Council of Trent clearly taught that Jesus Christ, humanity’s one and only Redeemer, redeemed both Jew and Gentile. But there is a huge difference between redemption and salvation. See how that works? Judas Iscariot was redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross, but he was not saved – Catholics believe he is damned in hell.
To be justified requires faith – and that faith must be Catholic. You see where this is going?
If I was Pope Francis, I’d be employing a food tester right about now.
Edward Pentin’s Perspective: A 43-year-old Mexican father of two, who claims to be possessed by demons — and whom Pope Francis prayed over earlier this month in what some witnesses likened to a public exorcism — insists that he still has demons inside him.
Identified only as Angel V., the man told Spanish-language newspaper El Mundo that he had undergone some 30 exorcisms by 10 exorcists, including the renowned Roman exorcist Rev. Gabriel Amorth, who all tried unsuccessfully to free him from his affliction. The interview was reported in the Italian daily La Stampa.
“I still have the demons inside me, they have not gone away,” the man said, noting that he felt much better after the Pope prayed over him. El Mundo reported that the man is able to walk. He was in a wheelchair when he met Pope Francis on May 19 at the conclusion of Mass on Pentecost Sunday.
Pope Francis laid his hands on the wheelchair-bound man in St Peter’s Square. The man’s expressions and the fact that he was known to be possessed made it appear to be an exorcism, although the Vatican denied the assertion, saying the Pope “did not intend to perform any exorcism” but simply prayed “for a suffering person who had been brought before him.”
An exorcism is, in the strict sense, a “casting out” of evil spirits using a very precise ritual. The Pope performed what is called a “laying on of hands” — a very ancient practice, going back to the Old Testament. In Christian tradition, it continues to be an act of blessing, and is also offered as an act of primarily spiritual healing by an ordained priest or bishop.
Angel V., who is married and lives in the state of Michoacán, claims to have been possessed by demons since 1999.
The Rev. Juan Rivas, a well-known Mexican priest, who accompanied Angel V. to Rome and was with him when he met the Pope, confirmed in an interview with El Mundo that Angel V. had been subjected to 30 exorcisms but “the demons that live in him do not want to leave him.” Rivas, a popular figure in Mexico and a member of the Legionaries of Christ, recalled how Angel kissed the pontiff’s ring and immediately fell into a trance.
“The Pope then laid his hands on his head and at that moment a terrible sound was heard (from him), like the roar of a lion,” Rivas said. “All those who were there heard it perfectly well. The Pope for sure heard it [but] he continued with his prayer, as if he had faced similar situations before.”
In the interview, Angel V. recalled the first time the demons entered him in 1999 when he was on a bus in Mexico. He felt “an energy” had entered the bus. “I did not see it with my eyes, but I perceived it,” he recalled. “I noted that it came close to me, and then stopped in front of me. Then, suddenly, I noted that something like a stake pierced my chest and, little by little, I had the sensation that it was opening my ribs.”
It felt like a heart attack, he added, and he thought he would die.
From then on, he said, his health started deteriorating: he vomited whatever he ate; he felt pains in his whole body, as if he was full of needles; he began to have difficulty in walking and breathing. “I could not sleep, and when I managed to sleep I had terrible nightmares connected with the evil one,” he asserted. He began to fall into trances in which he blasphemed, and spoke in unknown languages.
Medical doctors gave him thorough examinations but “could not get to the cause of my problems,” he said. Priests gave him Extreme Unction (a sacrament administered to the sick) four times, but this only “relieved” but did not remove his problem. The Catholic said he prays to God which helps him.
Knowing that he is possessed, he said is a source of “much fear,” but he also feels “very dirty at the thought that there was an evildoer within me.” His family reacted with incredulity, while some of his siblings were skeptical and thought he was psychologically unbalanced, he said.
For the past few years, Angel has sought out exorcists, including a leading Spanish priest, the Rev. Jose Antonio Fortea, who carried out exorcisms on him, and Amorth in Rome, but none could cast out his demons.
The possession turned into “a nightmare,” he said, causing him to lose a publicity company he owned and forcing him to sell some real estate. His family though has stood by him. “Fortunately, my children have never seen me in a trance, though they know I am ill,” he explained, adding that the past eight months have been particularly difficult.
One night he had a dream about Pope Francis, and when he woke up from the dream he turned on the TV and saw the Pope celebrating Mass exactly as he had seen in his dream “and then the idea came into my head that I should go to Rome.”
At that time he was reading a book by Amorth, “The Last Exorcist,” which included details of how both Benedict XVI and John Paul II carried out exorcisms on people brought to them. Angel V. asked Rivas, whom he has known for two years, to accompany him to the Vatican.
Amorth believes Angel is without doubt possessed, and that it is a possession “with a message.” “Not only is he possessed, but the devil who lives in him finds himself obliged by God to transmit a message,” he said.
Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?
“Angel is a good man. He has been chosen by the Lord to give a message to the Mexican clergy and to tell the bishops that they have to do an act of reparation for the law on abortion that was approved in Mexico City in 2007, which was an insult to the Virgin,” according to Amorth. “Until they . . . do this, Angel will not be liberated.”
Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek, and The Sunday Times
VATICAN CITY (The Borowitz Report)—Pope Emeritus Benedict’s return to the Vatican began on a sour note today as the current Pope, Francis, reprimanded him for rolling his eyes sarcastically during meetings, observers said.
The trouble started when the former Pope showed up at a meeting Francis scheduled to discuss plans for his Christmas mass, a meeting that “Benedict wasn’t even invited to,” a Vatican source said.
“It was awkward,” the source said. “Francis started talking about making an appeal to the world’s poor, and then Benedict started sighing in this really loud and obnoxious way.”
After about ten minutes of suffering through Benedict’s sighing and eye-rolling, Francis “totally called him out on it,” the source said, adding, “What Benedict was doing was totally disrespectful. Plus, he is supposed to be retired, so he shouldn’t have been wearing his Pope costume.”
Reached at his apartment at the Vatican, Benedict downplayed the incident, saying he “was just trying to be helpful.”
“Look, Francis is insecure—I get that,” he said. “He’s new at being Pope and it’s not surprising that he’s making so many mistakes. Once he checks his ego at the door, I think he’ll thank his lucky stars that old Benedict is around to back him up.”
Sources said that Benedict ignited tensions upon his return to Vatican City earlier this week when he posted a sign outside his residence reading “Home of the Original Pope.”
“The first thing he said when shown the papal apartments at the Vatican was ‘There is room for three hundred people here’ – next thing we knew the place was packed with raving clergymen!” says Cardinal Hugo Strangler, describing the changes being wrought in the Vatican by the recently-elected Pope Francis. “The rave went on all night, with His Holiness himself on the decks, spinning us some wicked mixes of Pat Boone and Cliff Richard! The younger priests were putting away the communion wine and wafers like the world was about to end!” According to Cardinal Strangler, who participated in the conclave which elected Pope Francis, the impromptu rave is typical of the new Pontiff’s interest in using popular culture as a vehicle for disseminating the word of God. “He’s really down with the kids,” explains Strangler. “He’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture – even his Papal name reflects this.” Contrary to popular belief, the Cardinal claims, the new Pope isn’t named for St Francis of Assisi, but rather for Francis Rossi of Status Quo. “By honouring this titan of modern pop music, His Holiness is hoping to demonstrate to the youth of the world that the church still has relevance,” he says. “He’s planning to get down with the kids soon – bringing his Stratocaster out onto the balcony at St Peter’s Square and thrashing out a few classic Quo covers.”
The Pope’s guitar has allegedly already had at least one outing in aid of interdenominational harmony, with Rome rife with rumours of an impromptu jam session involving Pope Francis on lead guitar, his Coptic equivalent on bass and the Dalai Lama on drums. “It is said to have happened in a basement bar near the Vatican, the day after the Holy Father was appointed,” says the Cardinal. “He’d apparently gone to settle his hotel bill, then bumped into the other two spiritual leaders outside the bar and one thing led to another. It is said that they thrashed out a number of old Jimi Hendrix numbers, including Voodoo Child and Purple Haze.” Indeed, stories about the unconventional new Pope’s populist antics are rife throughout the Italian capital, including the claim that the evening after his official inauguration, Pope Francis attended a karaoke night at a local bar, belting out a number of popular hymns and Gregorian chants, to the delight of the rest of the audience. “He is clearly a Pope of the people – in touch with the common man,” comments Strangler. “He understands that we must start preaching the gospel in terms that modern ordinary people can understand, if the church is to survive.”
However, Pope Francis’ pop culture approach to the Catholic faith and, in particular, his calls for it to become the church of the poor, have not met with universal approval in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. “All this ‘Pope a Go Go’ business is all very well, but he’s riskin’ making us a laughin’ stock,” declares Brendan O’Fugh, Bishop of Skibbereen. “At a time when we need to be reassertin’ our moral authority, in the wake of all these kiddie fiddlin’ allegations and the like, the last thing we need is the Pope jitterbuggin’ round the Basilica and singin’ duets with Justin Beiber!” O’Fugh is also suspicious of Pope Francis’ commitment to use the wealth of the church to help the world’s poor. “Look, the poor are poor because it is all part of God’s feckin’ plan, alright? Who are we to question His scheme of things?” says the exasperated cleric. “He creates us all equal, doesn’t He? If some lazy bastards can’t be bothered to get off their arses and make somethin’ of themselves, that’s their problem. The Almighty gave us free will, for feck’s sake, didn’t he? It’s their choice! If we bale ‘em out we’re just goin’ against God’s will!” O’Fugh is worried at the form that Pope Francis’ attempts to help the poor might take. “If we’re not careful, he’ll be holdin’ a feckin’ car boot sale in St Peter’s Square, floggin’ off all of our art treasures at bargain basement prices and givin’ the proceeds to some feckin’ beggars or gyppos!” he declares. “Next thing, he’ll be turning our bloody cathedrals and churches into doss houses! Look, if he really wanted to help the poor, he’d start advocatin’ contraception, wouldn’t he? But that’s not goin’ to happen, is it?”
O’Fugh had favoured a more conservative candidate for the Papacy, following Pope Benedict’s resignation, most specifically Cardinal Franco Hatchet. “He’s the sort of fellah we need to bring some dignity and respect back to the church,” enthuses the bishop. “I know people are always sayin’ he’s some kind of knee-jerk reactionary, but he has some pretty progressive ideas.” O’Fugh has been particularly impressed by Hatchet’s recent theological papers in which he has attempted to show that suicide might not be a mortal sin under certain circumstances – if committed in the name of God, for instance. “There’s no doubt that it opens up some fascinatin’ possibilities,” he muses. “Like the idea of Catholic suicide bombers who could instil real fear into the infidels and sinners. I mean, it’s worked wonders for the Muslims – nobody messes with them, do they? Not that I’m actually advocatin’ sendin’ out our parishioners to blow up abortion clinics – though that would make the bitches think twice about murderin’ their babies – I’m just sayin’ that you don’t see anyone takin’ the piss out of the Muslims now, do you? You don’t get any feckin’ comedians or gobshites on the web crackin’ jokes about Imams buggerin’ kiddies, do you?”
Most leading theologians agree that Hatchet’s already slim chances of becoming Pope were dashed completely by his recent intervention in the child abuse scandals which had threatened to engulf Benedict XVI’s papacy. “All he said was that we were lookin’ at it from the wrong perspective,” says Bishop O’Fugh. “Those kiddies weren’t victims – they were blessed! The so-called abuse they suffered at the hands of priests were actually a test from God – the Bible’s full of that sort of thing: just look at the Book of Job! It was a brilliant bit of scholarship on Hatchet’s part – an attempt to reconcile this alleged abuse with the fact that its alleged perpetrators were supposedly agents of the Almighty!” Controversially, O’Fugh is convinced that the election of Pope Francis was a mistake and is calling for a re-run of the ballot. “I have it on good authority that the white smoke billowin’ out of the chimney was a mistake – they hadn’t actually elected a new Pope at that point,” he confides. “As I understand it, the Cardinals had found a stash of kiddie porn in the room – probably planted by bloody protestants or atheists – and, in order to avoid another scandal, burned the filth in the stove, inadvertently causin’ the white smoke. When they realised what had happened, they panicked and picked a new Pope by drawin’ lots! I mean, they felt that had no choice, the media were clamourin’ for a name and those bloody marchin’ bands were already stampin’ around the square!”
According to confidential sources within the Vatican Curia, Pope Francis has served an eviction notice on Pope Emeritus Benedict. The former pope has one week from Easter Sunday to vacate Castel Gandolfo or answer to the Italian courts.
The action by Pope Francis has taken the Vatican by complete surprise given his well-known humility and charity for all. However, it has been revealed that since Benedict retired, he has piled up enormous bills at Castel Gandolfo — all at Francis’ expense.
Attempts to interview the erstwhile pontiff have been unsuccessful, since he has been spotted “tooling” around the Alban Hills in a 300,000 Euro Maserati Gran Turismo Sport.
The findings are sure to pile further pressure on the ailing religious organisation, just days after their Chief Executive resigned citing ‘personal reasons’ and ‘being a bit old’.
The news will concern billions of Catholic consumers, previously led to believe they were consuming Christ himself each Sunday morning.
Catholic Simon Williams told us, “So what have I been eating all these years? It’s not bloody horse is it?”
“With the amount of cash I’m encouraged to put in the collection plate I can’t believe they’re scrimping on the ingredients.”
“You’ll be telling me next that the stuff they dip the wafer in isn’t actually blood.”
A spokesperson for the Vatican explained that the DNA test results merely highlight the incompatibility of science and religion.
They told us, “Where is your faith that the wafer is the body of Christ? Science can’t tell you everything, and just as it can’t prove God doesn’t exist, it can’t prove the wafer ISN’T the body of Christ.”
“Oh, it has? Right. Well, there’s probably something in the Bible about that. I’ll have to go and look.”