A Growing Vatican Bank Scandal Threatens Catholic Church Image
A new scandal threatens to engulf the Catholic Church and this time the focus is money. Senior Vatican officials are battling over the future of the Vatican bank. While some would like total transparency, dubious transactions from the past and present could harm the Church’s image.
The Vatican scandal over shady bank accounts and millions in suspect transfers began shortly before sunrise on June 5 on Via Giuseppe Verdi, a picturesque street in the old part of Piacenza, a town in northeastern Italy. An elderly gentleman in a tailor-made suit had just left his house with a leather briefcase dangling from his right hand. He was on his way to his car.
It was to be an important day for Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who had recently been fired as the head of the Vatican bank — even if it turned out differently than he’d expected. Tedeschi was planning to go to the Vatican on that morning, but he never got there. The 67-year-old banker missed the high-speed train to Rome, meaning he couldn’t, as he had planned, get into a taxi at the Italian capital’s central station for the short journey across the Tiber River to the Vatican. There, he had hoped to take the documents out of his briefcase and hand them over to a confidant of the pope.
Instead, Gotti Tedeschi found four men waiting for him in the street — not a hit squad as he feared at first, but investigators with the Carabinieri, Italy’s national military police force. Even before he reached his car, they presented him with a search warrant and escorted him back to his house. For several hours, they searched through his sparsely furnished, cloister-like home office. At the same time, other officers were searching through Gotti Tedeschi’s office in Milan. Among the objects they confiscated were two computers, two cabinets’ full of binders, a planner and his briefcase.