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Exonerated Vatican Bank Official Seeks Church's Favor

Edward Pentin By Sunday, 18 January 2015 11:32 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

A former head of the Vatican Bank has said he is still waiting to be accepted by the Catholic Church after Rome judges acquitted him last year of money laundering charges.

In an email on Jan. 17, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was president of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR, or the Vatican "bank") for three years from 2009, said the church has been “indifferent” to his situation after he was suddenly sacked by the bank’s board in 2012.

At the time, Gotti Tedeschi was trying to fulfill Benedict XVI’s wish to clean up the bank by implementing an international anti-money laundering law. The overall aim was to enable the Vatican to enter the so-called "white list" of countries that abide by global norms on combating money laundering.

The Vatican stated at the time of his dismissal that Gotti Tedeschi, a devout Catholic, was removed “because he failed to fulfill the primary functions of his office.” But the Italian banker has always vigorously denied this, arguing that he was targeted specifically because he was ensuring the application of an anti-money laundering law that would involve the closure of nonreligious accounts, while at the same time rejecting any change that would provoke risks, and damage the church and the Pope.

Rome judges agreed, not only acquitting Gotti Tedeschi of having anything to do with money laundering charges leveled against him, but also recognizing that he carried out his duties for the good of the church. His attorneys said the ruling vindicated their client and “shows the unfounded . . . accusations” made by the bank’s board when it fired him.

Now the Italian financier, who lectures in economics and morality and has written four books on the subject, is concerned that Cardinal George Pell, who heads a new Vatican department overseeing the Vatican’s finances, does not know the full story.

“I fear he has not been properly informed about what happened in September 2010 when we were investigated,” Gotti Tedeschi told me, referring to an investigation by Italy’s financial intelligence unit which seized, and a few years later released, $30 million of the bank’s accounts.

He is also concerned the cardinal has not been informed about what happened afterwards in relation to the bank’s interactions with Europe’s anti-money laundering monitoring body "Moneyval."

“Also, does he know why the banks closed their accounts with the IOR, what my reaction and my proposals were, which led to my being driven out?” he asked.

He further wondered if the Australian cardinal, whom he recognizes as “capable, determined and courageous”, also knows why he was fired and then “defamed, to discredit me in my defense, which was never allowed.”

Gotti Tedeschi says he has been forced to defend himself because the Church has not done so, even though he says Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wanted his rehabilitation. “I received official word of it [that Benedict would publicly defend him] on Feb. 7, 2013, four days before he resigned. But nothing happened afterward. Of course magistrates have now done this.”

He recognized that some have come to his aid, such as Benedict’s private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who defended him in a newspaper interview in October 2013. “But unfortunately I haven’t been rehabilitated by the church, by my church, whose devoted son I am,” Gotti Tedeschi said. “And what I most suffer from now is precisely this “indifference” reserved to the facts regarding me. It doesn’t really seem that they want to apply the search for truth, mercy and justice to me.”

Asked about Pope Francis’ address to Vatican officials before Christmas, in which the pontiff listed 15 “diseases” of the Roman Curia, the Italian financier said he would like to add another. “A kind of Machiavellianism that justifies the use of bad means also to pursue good ends,” he said.

But he also stressed he has known “so many” Vatican officials “who are ‘saints,’ who are exemplary and it is thanks to them that the church continues to live.”

He added: “I know my confidence in the church has never wavered. But I really miss especially Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He has no idea how much I wish to see him, with my wife.”

Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times. Read more reports from Edward Pentin — Click Here Now.

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A former head of the Vatican Bank has said he is still waiting to be accepted by the Catholic Church after Rome judges acquitted him last year of money laundering charges.
vatican, pope, Gotti Tedeschi
Sunday, 18 January 2015 11:32 AM
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