Pope Francis is head of a sovereign State; the 110-acre Vatican City, which has no ‘cash flow problems.’ The Vatican Bank controls Sh700 billion in cash and over Sh600 billion in assets, according to Bloomberg.
The Vatican Bank was established by Pope Pius XII in 1942 to skirt US ban on wired money transfers out of ‘axis nations,’ of which Italy was part during World War II, when it accepted smuggled gold and money from Hitler’s henchmen which Gerald Posner calls ‘blood money’ in his book, God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican that was published in 2015.
Gradually, the Vatican Bank – as a tax haven immune to nosy external investigators – became a playground of corrupt politicians, cocaine smugglers, crooked businessmen, shadowy shell companies and organised crime syndicates, notes David Yallop in his widely acclaimed effort of 1984, In God’s Name.
Aside from that, during the dark ages, the Catholic Church made a big fortune by selling INDULGENCES. Read about it here. See, Catholics are taught about this dirty secret place called Purgatory where people go to atone for their sins. An example they teach is, say your kid steals from a shop. And he later returns whatever he stole. Whereas the act of stealing is forgiven the guilt thereof must be cleansed in purgatory. So back then they would sell certificates which would lessen your time (when you die) or the time of your loved one in purgatory. It is like paying to reduce your sentence.
“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”
(See Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: Life of Martin Luther, New York: Penguin, 1995; also James Kittelson, Luther The Reformer, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, 1986)
Not only does the concept of indulgences reject the faith in Christ’s death on the cross and ressurection for the sins of man, but it also has robbed countless men and women of their wages
Their bank only takes deposits. Only a Catholic body, charity, clergy or Vatican employee can open an account. Pope John Paul I tried overhauling the scandal-ridden bank. He was murdered, after 33 days – one of the shortest Papal stints.
Pope John Paul II hardly upset its intricate applecart. He reigned for 26 years, the second longest after the 31 clocked by Pope Pius IX in 1879. Exit Pope John Paul II, enter Pope Benedict IX in 2005.
He initiated the first anti-money laundering law besides appointing a regulator in 2011- the first time in ages the Vatican books were being externally scrutinised. Pope Benedict IX resigned, the first Pope to do so in 600 years, after years at the helm in 2013 – also the year the Vatican Bank made its annual returns public!
The actual reasons for ending his Papacy after just eight years can only be speculated, since secret Papal papers will only be released 75 years after his death!
Pope Francis has flirted with the idea of closing down the Vatican Bank since “St Peter didn’t have a bank,” but was prevailed upon, since the Holy See depends on its profits, besides bankrolling any poor Catholic diocese in Asia and Third World Africa. Indeed, as scandal-soaked Paul Marcinkus, President of the Vatican Bank for 18 years to 1989 observed: “You can’t run the church on Hail Marys!”