An investigative report of the current pope’s “revolution” to reform Vatican finances.
The Italian author of two previous high-church exposés, Nuzzi has significant sources within the Roman Curia, allowing him access to “exclusive, never-before-published documentation” that reveals a truly shocking, shameful story of waste and corruption within the vast network of Vatican finances. Elected to the papacy on March 13, 2013, under the name of the saint of the impoverished and downtrodden, Francis set out with a mission: “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor.” Yet how to square this goal with the fact that the Holy See is one of the richest organizations in the world, ruled much like the Mafia by aged, clannish cardinals who want to defend their turf to the death and create obstacles to effect change, efficiency, or transparency? Confronting the chiefs of the Institute for Religious Works, or Vatican Bank, and the APSA, the central bank of the Vatican, had first been undertaken by popes John Paul I (d. 1978) and Benedict XVI (who resigned just before Francis ascended), both to little avail. However, Francis seems to have world opinion behind him, and he moved immediately to clean house. He established an oversight commission to audit the IOR, thus exposing its unbelievably shoddy bookkeeping, and track the huge sums generating the so-called saints’ factory. He also aimed to get to the bottom of where all the money donated to the Peter’s Pence fund (charity offerings for the poor around the world) was actually ending up. The network of subterfuge is bewildering, and the barriers to transparency perhaps more than Frances can overcome, as Nuzzi delineates with valiant candor.
While more historical context would be useful, this is a provocative work of dogged investigative research.