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The Christian Science Monitor reported: “Pope Benedict came under harsh criticism for his perceived lack of action against pedophilia among clergy.” Possibly for this reason Pope Francis strengthened church laws against child abuse, while a UN committee investigated the Vatican’s handling of abuse allegations.
“A United Nations human rights panel has posed a list of tough questions to the Vatican about child abuse by Catholic priests, a potential embarrassment for Pope Francis a few months into his papacy. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) asked for ‘detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nuns’ since the Holy See last reported to it some 15 years ago, and set a deadline for a reply.”
“By issuing its questions, the Geneva-based CRC brushed aside a Vatican warning that it might pull out of the Convention on the Rights of the Child if pushed too hard on the issue.” (Robert Evans, “U.N. rights body poses tough questions to Vatican over child abuse,” Reuters, July 10, 2013)
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In a related development, Joanne Hart of the Daily Mail noted in August 2013 that Vatican diplomats in London were thrown into chaos after Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, sacked them as customers and gave them 60 days to move their accounts: “The Pope’s representative office in Britain, the Apostolic Nunciature, has banked with HSBC for many years but was told to find another bank.”
Banking sources said diplomatic missions were considered to be “politically exposed,” which means they are at risk of money laundering activities. A commission of inquiry was set up by Pope Francis to review the activities of the Vatican bank, following recent scandals. He named a trusted cleric to oversee the management of the bank, which is known officially as the Institute for Works of Religion.
In one of his last official acts, Pope Benedict XVI appointed a German lawyer to head its bank, but the bid to turn the fortunes of the scandal-hit institution was clouded by his business links to a military shipbuilder for Nazi Germany:
“As chairman of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), Ernst von Freyberg will head efforts to improve the image of the Vatican’s bank which is under investigation for money laundering and has been without a head for nine months.
“But within minutes of announcing his appointment, the Vatican faced a new public relations challenge when asked to explain Freyberg’s chairmanship of Blohm & Voss, a Hamburg-based shipbuilder in which he is a minority shareholder.
“Reporters asked Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi how the Church could justify hiring someone who worked for a company with a long history of making warships, including for Nazi Germany.” (Robin Pomeroy, “German appointed to head scandal-hit Vatican bank,” Reuters, February 15, 2013)
Both the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII have often been accused for their failure to condemn the oppressive, totalitarian Third Reich and the Holocaust that arose from it. “Hitler’s Pope” is a book published in 1999 by the British journalist and author John Cornwell that examines the doubtful actions of Pope Pius during World War II. But contemporary critics have in recent times started to soften their view:
“Pius XII has long been vilified as ‘Hitler’s pope,’ accused of failing publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe’s Jews. Now a British author has unearthed extensive material that Vatican insiders believe will restore his reputation, revealing the part that he played in saving lives and opposing Nazism. Gordon Thomas, a Protestant, was given access to previously unpublished Vatican documents and tracked down victims, priests and others who had not told their stories before.
“The Pope’s Jews, which was published in 2012, details how Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican and Europe’s convents and monasteries. He oversaw a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican subjects.” (Dalya Alberge, “Vatican hopes secret files exonerate ‘Hitler’s pope,’” The Observer, February 9, 2013)
Nonetheless, scarce mention was made of the fact that Catholic priests sponsored the ODESSA “ratlines,” assisting a range of German SS officers to escape capture after the war. Failing to speak out against Nazism was perhaps a symptom of waywardness, but devotedly helping fugitive Nazis get away was an outright war crime.
As for the Vatican helping Jews, consider this: DNA tests did not exist in the days of the Holocaust. If a middle class German national accused of being Jewish (Ashkenazi) could provide proof of seven Germanic birth or baptism certificates (the person, his parents and grandparents) and three marriage certificates (parents and grandparents), they would receive a so-called “Aryan Certificate.” If they could trace their Germanic family pedigree to the year 1800, they could join the Nazi party.
Many of the Ashkenazim made efforts to escape Germany at the induction of such horrid policies. Opposition led to incarceration. Sephardi (Spanish or Mediterranean) Jews were directly taken to detention camps.
IBM punch-card computers purportedly kept tabs on the Aryan Certificate files. The pointless World War II-era credential did not call for a birth certificate if a “baptism” certificate was provided instead. The Jesuit-administered Catholic Church could grant this –– together with marriage certificates –– bearing the official seal of the Vatican.
“Across Europe, the Nazis found countless willing helpers who collaborated or were complicit in their crimes.” Corrupt Catholic clergymen (who also assisted the “ratlines” of Nazi escapees to South America) swindled destitute Jews of all their life savings for a sham “ancestor passport.” Being “made Vatican subjects” also meant forced conversion to Catholicism –– or death. And there was no warranty for disputed Aryan Certificates.
In 2008 the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said Jesuit Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, thought Christians should consider alien life as an “extraterrestrial brother.” Other Vatican envoys have lately mentioned the legitimacy of alien contact. (The Vatican executed Giordano Bruno in 1600 for similar thoughts.)
Did celestial concern perhaps oblige Pope Francis to issue an “Apostolic Letter” effective September 1, 2013, that reportedly stripped away the immunity of judges, attorneys, government officials and all entities established under the Roman Curia?
Peter Fotis Kapnistos