Joseph Grosso writes at Counterpunch:
If the recent report from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica is true than it turns out that the first Pope to resign his post in almost six hundred years did so, at least in part, due to the existence of a faction of gay Vatican officials being blackmailed by outsiders of a ‘worldly influence’. This sordid affair apparently emerged from an investigation by a three Cardinal team that Pope Benedict XVI set up to look into the leaking of documents by the Pope’s own butler, Paolo Gabriele, who saw leaking the Pope’s personal correspondence to an investigative journalist as a noble act meant to spur reform in an organization dominated by infighting and corruption.
Just last month tourists visiting the shops inside the Vatican were prevented from using credit cards to buy tickets and souvenirs after the Bank of Italy found that the Vatican Bank’s safeguards against money laundering do not meet international standards. The Vatican Bank, formally named the Institute for Works of Religion, holds $8 billion in assets among 33,000 accounts. The Vatican was able to sidestep EU banking rules by turning to a Swiss company to restore credit card payments.
Money laundering has loomed over the Vatican bank since before Robert Calvi, known as ‘God’s banker’ and head of Italy’s largest private bank (of which the Vatican was the largest shareholder), was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982. In 2010 Italian prosecutors seized $29 million from an account under suspicion and last year the bank had one of its accounts closed by JPMorgan Chase when Vatican bankers were unable to respond to requests for details about deposits into the account. Pope Benedict did issue a decree in December 2010 against money laundering but leaked documents show his weak efforts at reform were blunted by internal opposition.
Much of the largesse has been used in settling child abuse cases to the tune of more than $2 billion dollars since 1950. This week controversy swirls around Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles, where the largest such settlement was reached, voting in the concave given his role in reshuffling accused priests. The same is true for Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland and Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium. Meanwhile in Britain Cardinal Keith O’Brien announced his resignation amid accusations of inappropriate contact with younger priests. This leaves Britain without a voting cardinal.
All this under the watchful eye of a man who is proclaimed to be in some way infallible on matters of doctrine and morals; say what one will about the other masters of the universe, the Jaime Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein types surely wave the Too Big to Fail banner proudly, but even they don’t reach for the infallible plateau.
Read more here.