Many believe that during World War II priests and Vatican insiders knew about Nazi concentration camps that housed and killed Jews, but they remained silent and worked with and helped Nazis and their sympathizers to bank and hide millions of dollars, valuable art, and antiques.
Scholars and lawyers have long felt that during World War II, the Vatican Bank profiteered from money laundering; selling stolen Nazi loot; and buying and selling Jewish refugees’ insurance policies after they were killed in death camps. In order to benefit the church, its leaders use suppressive measures to bypass, ignore, or tolerate Nazi crimes.
Attorney Jonathan Levy of Washington, who represents holocaust survivors and heirs, claims the Roman Catholic Church and its bank dealt with gold and other valuables stolen after the genocidal murders of 500,000 Jews, Serbs, and gypsies and deposited the profits at the Vatican Bank in 1946.
In 1976, a court declared that the Vatican Bank had immunity under the Foreign Service Immunities Act, but in October 2010, holocaust survivors accused the Vatican of helping Nazi allies launder valuables stolen from their families and asked the European Commission to investigate their allegations.
For decades, authorities and researchers have accused the Vatican of taking and selling stolen art from the Nazis. Although the Vatican denies that allegation, they refuse to open their World War II orrespondence vaults. If they have nothing to hide, why won’t they reveal their archived letters from World War II?
Gerald Posner’s recent book "God’s Bankers, a History of Money and Power at the Vatican" exposes a multitude of sins committed by the Roman Catholic Church and its notorious bank, calling its dealings with the Nazis as laundering “blood money.”
The church is evasive about its finances, but most estimates put its wealth into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
It is thought that millions of dollars in cash was taken from Mafia leaders throughout World War II but only insiders know the extent of Vatican war crimes. Currently, Pope Francis is closing accounts that are held by shady people and he is attempting to clean up the Vatican Bank’s dealings worldwide.
During World War II, priests reported daily to the Vatican facts about Nazi prison camps incarcerating Jews. Instead of exposing Nazi genocide, the church joined in Nazi efforts to launder money and valuable objects, because the church fathers allegedly feared Adolph Hitler would turn on them or all Catholics, if they didn’t cooperate.
Gerald Posner writes, "They abdicated their moral position as the head of the world's largest religion, especially at a time that they continued to make money with the people committing the murder."
For decades, the Roman Catholic Church was Europe’s premier power broker, commanding a vast financial, political and military network that controlled Europe.
Allegedly, the Sistine Chapel has had a basement full of ill-gotten gold from Nazi loot and Vatican bankers allegedly have been involved in complex, secretive scandals that include robberies, murder, multimillion dollar dealings with the Mafioso and more.
Around 1982, Roberto "God's Banker" Calvi, was found hanging from Blackfriar’s Bridge in London. His pockets were filled with bricks and cash. In the months before his death, he had been accused of stealing millions of laundered Mafia money from the Vatican. Calvi’s murder probably will never be solved. The higher authorities go to get answers, the less evidence they find.
In 1973, the U.S Department of Justice started to investigate how the Vatican Bank dealt in alleged stolen and counterfeit securities.
The FBI claims that New York mobsters wanted to sell counterfeit stocks and bonds for $900 million to the Vatican, and that a cardinal planned to use the undetectable, fake securities as collateral to obtain financing from other banks. If the Vatican Bank lost money in the deal, it could expose mobster crimes and not pay back the illegal loan.
David A. Yallop’s book "In God’s Name" investigates the death of Pope John Paul I on Sept. 28-29, 1978, after John Paul started to dig into corruption surrounding the Vatican Bank. He had been Pope for 33 days.
In 2000, detectives caught a Vatican monsignor operating a huge money-laundering art scheme. The monsignor allegedly authenticated fake Michelangelo (Italian, 1475-1564) and Giovanni Guercino (Italian, 1591-1666) paintings for profit.
Police found in his possession blank Vatican certificates of authenticity with seals of the Holy See that were to be used to finalize fraudulent sales (see Aug. 18, 2000 Art News).
The Vatican possesses one of the world’s largest art collections, including hundreds of Michelangelo letters, but many of its paintings have been hidden since World War II, and people suspect many of them are Nazi loot.
Since the war, the Roman Catholic Church has struggled with how best to categorize the Jewish people, yet at the Vatican Council in 1965, the Church’s Nostra Aetate (dealing with its relationship with the Jews) stated that God holds Jews “most dear.” It’s too bad the Church didn’tfeel that way during the war.
Patricia Jobe Pierce is a freelance writer, art historian, art dealer-consultant, certified AAA appraiser, public speaker, photographer and American art authenticator for museums, auction houses and collectors. She graduated from Boston University with a BFA in 1965, is owner and director of Pierce Galleries, Inc. in Nantucket and Hingham, Mass., and is author of many works, including, "Art Collecting & Investing: The Inner Workings and the Underbelly of the Art World." For more of her submissions, Click Here Now.
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