Vatican Needs New Moral Compass over Bank
October 5, 2013
Let's see if I have this right. The Pope's butler allegedly leaked documents which show systemic corruption in the Vatican. He is arrested. A study commission is appointed to root out other transgressors who leaked the information about the apparent illegalities so they too can be prosecuted. Nobody who actually perpetrated any offenses is fired let alone charged with any offenses. Sounds just like secular governments, doesn't it? Kill the messenger.
Of course, the Vatican response is more opprobrious given the sanctimoniousness of its pronouncements about "Vatileaks." The Pope is quoted as condemning this "grave immoral act" since the people who wrote the memos thought that they were speaking freely in front of God. Would that this Pope got so lathered up both in his former position as chief investigator of the child sexual abuse claims and now as head of the church. Now, that scandal is what I call one of "grave immoral acts."
What "crimes" did the butler commit? For the umpteenth time in Church history he revealed evidence of money laundering rules being violated. He exposed millions of dollars being blown on contracts which many consider are kickbacks. The head of the Vatican bank was another whistle-blower who begged not to be transferred out of his position but he was sent packing. It isn't right to tell Granny in her pew about how her widow's mite is spent. The sad irony is that this Vatican bank chief was trying to get the bank on the so-called "white list" of financially virtuous countries. The Vatican, a country unto itself, isn't on the list because of its suspect practices. That's quite an indictment for a religious institution.
How did the religion that started in a manger with Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes become a monolith with a golden throne, designer slippers on the Pope's feet and an institution whose banking practices would make J.P. Morgan Chase Bank blush? How far off the trail can it go when it condemns the reformers and protects the malfeasors? In effect, it is protecting a culture of corruption.
The Church is supposed to be a moral leader. Its "investigative modus operandi" is about the worst example it can give to other heads of state. By punishing those who are exposing the problems and demanding transparency, the Vatican is giving its imprimatur for other countries to punish those who seek a better government by challenging wrongdoing .The blind eye to its own failings is astonishing and unworthy of an organization that posits itself as an example of righteousness.
Many, including some readers, will wax about how all organizations have humans in it and that human nature can get the best of some. I say "baloney!" The Church corruption goes to the very top including the Pope's invocation of "God's conversations" being interrupted. We expect better of all leaders and when they don't measure up, they should be replaced. Surely, there are some bad grapes in the vineyard but it's time they got plucked, starting at the top of the vine at the Vatican.
There is no excuse for this latest round of circling the wagons. The Church is expending its moral capital to the point of oblivion. It's a sad commentary when some secular states look better than the Vatican.
Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.