In 2001, sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome. This change placed all such cases under the auspices of Cardinal Ratzinger, until he was named Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
Victims of clerical sex abuse have reacted furiously to Pope Benedict’s claim that pedophilia wasn’t considered an “absolute evil” as recently as the 1970s.
In his traditional Christmas address to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.
“In the 1970s, pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.
Prosecutors are accusing the Vatican Bank of deliberately flouting anti-laundering laws “with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital”. The documents also reveal investigators’ suspicions that clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and the Mafia. The documents pinpoint two transactions that have not been reported: one in 2009 involving the use of a false name, and another in 2010 in which the Vatican Bank withdrew €650,000 from an Italian bank account but ignored bank requests to disclose where the money was headed.
The new allegations of financial impropriety could not have come at a worse time for the Vatican, already hit by revelations that it sheltered pedophile priests. The corruption probe has also given new hope to Holocaust survivors who tried unsuccessfully to sue the Vatican in the US, alleging that Nazi loot was stored in the bank.
Yet the scandal is hardly the first for the centuries-old bank. In 1986, a Vatican financial adviser died after drinking cyanide-laced coffee in prison. Another, Roberto Calvi,was found dangling from a rope under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982, his pockets stuffed with money and stones, a few days after his personal secretary, left a note denouncing Calvi before jumping from her office window to her death.
The incidents blackened the bank’s reputation, raised suspicions of ties with the Mafia, and cost the Vatican hundreds of millions of dollars in legal clashes with Italian authorities. However it must have nevertheless been profitable since they are back again breaking the same or similar laws.