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These things may be magnificent, and the world would be a poorer place without them, yet they add nothing to the veracity of the bible, or to validate God’s existence. Some of the world’s most fraudulent fiends own palaces and awesome art collections.
Ever since the Middle Ages, the Vatican’s worldwide properties and other investments have surpassed the scale of nearly every other business in the world. Its finances are very complex and not transparent, because the Vatican bank isn’t required to pay tax or fill out a tax return.
The money comes in from the world’s share markets, businesses, government taxes, thousands of dioceses, religious foundations, and fiduciaries linked to the papal state. Some commentators estimate the liquid assets to be worth over 50 billion US dollars, and that’s very likely a conservative figure.
There are also probably hundreds of billions of dollars hoarded away in real estate and works of art. That, in my opinion, is not excusable from an organization preaching charity and humility.
It’s a remarkable fact that much of the enormous wealth the Vatican owns today was originally obtained from taxpaying Italian and German citizens in the 1930’s and 40’s. People in those days often listened to priests, and were told how to vote.
The Vatican got into bed with Mussolini and Hitler in deals that swapped cash for endorsement. This is one of the reasons the Vatican was loath to criticize Hitler. It’s been argued the Second World War may never have happened without the Vatican’s support for these fascist regimes.
After the war the Vatican helped hundreds of key Nazis escape Germany in return for large cash payments and ever since the 1950’s, right up to present times, the Vatican bank has had to fight off accusations of money laundering and deals with shady characters such as men from the Mafia.
Today’s Catholics should be aware of one scam that has put much money in the Vatican’s coffers: canonizing saints. Throughout history the grounds for beatification have been theatrical. Kings, queens, the nobility, warlords and soldiers were sanctified as saints whenever it suited the Vatican. Ignacio de Loloya with his army of Jesuits, Dimingo de Guzman and his Dominican friars, and Jose M Escriva, who founded Opus Dei, each started societies that helped fill Catholic coffers, and have been beatified for their efforts, as if a hypothetical god could care less about a corporation’s annual profit!
The late Pope John Paul II was history’s greatest saint-maker; 484 new saints appeared during his papacy. All other popes in the twentieth century canonized a total of only ninety-eight. New saints keep the cash registers sizzling hot. Canonizations mean television rights, free advertising, visits to shrines, book sales, memento sales etc. People like saints, even if they don’t like their priests, bishops, or their pope, and are gullible enough to subsidize the Vatican for creating them.
In centuries past, the Vatican made a fortune trafficking indulgences; today they’re doing the same selling saints. John Paul moved a step closer to becoming a saint himself in 2011 when his successor attributed a miracle to him and announced that he’ll be beatified.
The true size of the Vatican’s gravy train will one day be made public, Catholics will be shocked, and the greedy men at the center of one of the world’s longest-running scams will have nowhere to hide.