On Sunday, the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, ignored his prepared remarks and instead made a Barack Obama style ‘off the cuff’ speech and one of his comments attracted my interest.
And stirred my memory. It was when the man in robes insisted that ‘people involved in the arms trade and making of weapons, can’t really call themselves Christians.’
‘It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?’ he said. The comment was met by a round of applause. He continued by slamming investors in the global arms industry, stating, ‘duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.’
This is the Pope’s strongest criticism of the weapons industry to date, but it’s not the first time he has denounced those involved in the business. Last year, he condemned arms dealers when he remarked that they ‘fabricate death’ and referred to them as ‘merchants of death’ who ‘make death into a trade.’ according to the Wall Street Journal.
And whilst the holy and the righteous were nodding sagely in agreement, and the knuckle dragging, Republican, Christian, Gun Lobby of America was trying to force it’s oversized tongue back into its collective mouth and was scratching its head, I was laughing so hard I gave myself a headache.
Because I remembered that the Catholic Church, through the Istituto per le Opere di Religione or Institute for the Works of Religion (otherwise known as the Vatican Bank) are a major investor in the British arms manufacturer BAE Systems. And this is not a shady secret, it is public information.
The same article reminds us that the Vatican Bank are also a major shareholder in a pharmaceutical who make contraceptive pills (the ones banned by the Catholic Church causing overpopulation and misery in poor Catholic communities the world over) and a major investor in several European Tobacco companies.
I am certain that if I dig further it would be easy enough to uncover many other hypocrisies surrounding this mob cult in Rome but it is Sunday morning and I am going to the beach. However, I was reminded of one of my earlier projects involving the mafia, the Holy Sea and the Roman Catholic Church.
When the Holy See (whose tax-exempt status on income from Italian investments was revoked in 1968) decided to diversify its holdings, it employed, as financial adviser, Michele Sindona. Once among the country’s most powerful businessmen, subsequent investigations into Sindonda’s business affairs revealed questionable associations with the Mafia as well as the secret P2, a bogus ‘Masonic’ lodge that the Italian Parliament branded as a subversive organization, despite half of them being members.
The 1974 failure of Sindona’s Franklin National Bank and the subsequent collapse of his financial empire, into which he had channeled part of the Holy See’s investments, entailed losses for the Vatican estimated by one source at 35 billion Italian lire (£20 million)
In 1982, a political and financial scandal connected with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano involved the head of IOR from 1971 to 1989, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who apparently provided ‘letters of patronage’ on behalf of the IOR in support of the failed bank.
In 1987, an Italian court issued a warrant against Marcinkus, whom they accused of being an accessory to fraudulent bankruptcy. Marcinkus evaded arrest by staying inside Vatican City, safely behind the big wall, until the warrant was dismissed in 1991, whereupon he returned to his home country, the United States.
Chairman of the Banco Ambrosiano and member of the illegal Masonic lodge P2, Roberto Calvi was convicted of violating Italian currency laws and fled on a false passport to London where he was found murdered under Blackfriars Bridge in London some days after he went missing from Milan.
The Istituto per le Opere di Religione, then a 10% shareholder of Banco Ambrosiano, denied legal responsibility for the Banco Ambrosiano’s downfall but acknowledged some ‘moral involvement’ and paid US$224 million to creditors.
Several books published during the 1980s and 1990s were highly critical of the Institute for the Works of Religion’s historical relations with anti-communist governments. Tony Abse, writing in The Weekly Worker, an organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain, has said that the CIA used the Institute for the Works of Religion to funnel funds to the Solidarity Polish trade union ‘as part of the final offensive against the Soviet Union.’
The organization of American Atheists says covert United States funds were channelled in the same way both to Solidarity and to Contra guerrillas.
And so, far from lecturing us on ‘duplicity and saying one thing and doing another,’ the world’s most ridiculously dressed man should remain inside his high walls, preferably locked inside, and address corruption, murder, child abuse and a range of other crimes committed throughout the ages by history’s most dangerous criminal gang. Whilst I go to the beach.