Monday, March 2, 2015

God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican

via Amazon:

A deeply reported, fast-paced exposé of the money and the cardinals-turned-financiers at the heart of the Vatican—the world’s biggest, most powerful religious institution—from an acclaimed journalist with “exhaustive research techniques” (The New York Times).

An Amazon reviewer writes: This is as much a history of the Vatican as it is its money trail from the shadows of the renaissance all the way up the day it was published... scores of books have been commissioned by the Vatican to conceal its union with the Nazi Party in pre-war Germany. Read the newspapers of the time and you get an entirely different picture. `God's Bankers' gives you that picture.

The narrative is skillfully knotted with loads of scenes of the times, from little Jewish boys kidnapped by popes, into the shadows of the Vatican alliance with the Third Reich, to Jews loaded onto boxcars under clergy noses, to the politics of conclaves that elect popes, to a pope sitting up dead in bed reading papers held in his hands, to a Mafia type swinging under a bridge in the wake of the `Great Vatican Bank Scandal'.
It cleverly weaves the role of money into most of what it has to say and it sheds new light on those of us who think we know it all. For example, most of us know the German Concordant allied the Vatican with Nazi Germany. But, how many of us know, the Third Reich enacted automatic payroll deductions of German Catholics (8-10%); money which flowed to the Vatican treasury?

Most of us know the Sindona/Vatican Bank manipulation of Long Island's Franklin National Bank resulted in the biggest American bank failure of its time. Most of us know, it was made possible through the intervention of Richard Nixon. But, how many of us know, Sindona contributed $5.2 million ($20 million today's dollars) to Nixon's 1972 campaign?...the framework for manipulation remains. The Vatican Bank continues to operate as a central bank on the edge of Vatican City within Italy. Anyone can walk into the bank and have money transferred anywhere in the world without going through the Bank of Italy. Too, it continues to operate under a single man--the Pope. Change the ethnics of that man? God knows what will happen?

I developed an interest in the Vatican Bank via The Vatican Murders: The Life and Death of John Paul I. Written by a former acquaintance of the 33-day Pope - Lucien Gregoire - it does a compelling job of proving `The conspiracy that plotted the Great Vatican Bank Scandal (1979-81) was the same conspiracy that plotted the Murder of the youngest pope to die in four hundred years and eight left wing cardinals.'

From a master chronicler of legal and financial misconduct, a magnificent investigation nine years in the making, this book traces the political intrigue and inner workings of the Catholic Church. Decidedly not about faith, belief in God, or religious doctrine, this book is about the church’s accumulation of wealth and its byzantine entanglements with financial markets across the world. Told through 200 years of prelates, bishops, cardinals, and the Popes who oversee it all, Gerald Posner uncovers an eyebrow-raising account of money and power in perhaps the most influential organization in the history of the world.

God’s Bankers has it all: a rare exposé and an astounding saga marked by poisoned business titans, murdered prosecutors, mysterious deaths of private investigators, and questionable suicides; a carnival of characters from Popes and cardinals, financiers and mobsters, kings and prime ministers; and a set of moral and political circumstances that clarify not only the church’s aims and ambitions, but reflect the larger dilemmas of the world’s more recent history. And Posner even looks to the future to surmise if Pope Francis can succeed where all his predecessors failed: to overcome the resistance to change in the Vatican’s Machiavellian inner court and to rein in the excesses of its seemingly uncontrollable financial quagmire. Part thriller, part financial tell-all, this book shows with extraordinary precision how the Vatican has evolved from a foundation of faith to a corporation of extreme wealth and power.