A dogged reporter exhaustively pursues the nefarious enrichment of the Vatican, from the Borgias to Pope Francis.
In one of his previous works, Mengele (1986), former Wall Street lawyer–turned–accomplished historian and author Posner (Warlords of Crime; Hitler’s Children, etc.) followed the money connection from the Nazi criminals fleeing the Third Reich to Argentina—and struck Vatican gold. Laundering Nazi booty extracted from the Jews, protecting Nazi criminals as they found refuge across the globe, providing hush money for egregious cases of pedophiliac priests—these are just some of the tentacles of Vatican bankrolling since World War II. Having overcome its aversion to moneylending and capitalism as being practices of Protestants and Jews after Italian unification, the Vatican later established a stabilizing appeasement policy with secular leader Mussolini in the form of the Lateran Pacts. Pope Pius XI’s financial adviser, Bernardino Nogara, diversified Vatican finances through the Depression era, entangling Vatican and Fascist ties. The Reichskonkordat, a series of pacts signed by Hitler, extracted taxes from Catholic churches and guaranteed the Vatican's silence regarding the Holocaust; it also funneled “blood money” from Nazi victims and supported the “ratline” for escaping Nazi criminals. Posner tracks the formation of the Institute per le Opere di Religione (the Vatican bank) in 1942 through its troubled survival into the present era, as it has battled accusations of mob ties, “gay lobby” scandals, WikiLeaks disclosures, lawsuits by victims of sex abuse and the insistence by the European Union on more transparency in the bank’s dealings. Pope Francis’ promises of reform are going to be closely watched. Posner bases his massive research on extensive interviews and documents found in the archives of governments and private companies across the world (the author was barred from the Vatican’s own Secret Archives).
A meticulous work that cracks wide open the Vatican’s legendary, enabling secrecy.