In the mainstream media story it is not there. Vatican without mystery And there is no Vatican mystery without the IOR. Since the 1980s, these three letters have acquired a negative meaning for world public opinion that associates them with power, wealth and a lack of transparency. But is it really so?
Why the ORI?
An attempt has been made to provide an answer, with a serious historical reconstruction, francesco anfossi in his book ior Lights and shadows of the Vatican Bank from its beginnings to Marcinkus (Ares Editions). The volume contains hitherto unpublished curiosities that have captured the attention of the newspapers in recent days and that have testified that in the same ecclesiastical hierarchies of the time there was no solid defense of the bank’s historical management against scandals that overwhelmed her in the 80s.
But beyond these more spicy details, the book really manages to dismantle and resize many black legends about the IOR. From the origin and aim.
The Institute for Works of Religion -this is its full name- was founded on June 27, 1942 by the Pope Pius XII. It is not a bank although it is called to carry out banking services. The IOR has no shareholders and the profits collected go to religious works. This financial body was designed precisely, in the midst of World War II, precisely to protect the Church from international shocks and guarantee its autonomy. This logic responds to the decision to characterize it from the beginning as a central organ of the Catholic Church and, therefore, it should not be confused with the Roman Curia from which it comes. distinct.
Vatican finances in general managed to have a margin of freedom in those difficult years, as pointed out by the professor Agostino Giovagnoli recalling the role of Bernardino Nogara, historical head of the Speciale, precursor of the current Apsa, created to manage the money disbursed by the Italian State as a result of the signing of the Lateran Pacts as compensation. “It was the engineer Nogara, presumably at the request of Pius XII, who found the ingots that were missing from the 50 kilos of gold requested by the Nazis from the Roman Jewish community, under pain of deportation of two hundred Jews.“, writes Giovagnoli in the introduction.
The figure of Marcinkus
Mgr Pablo Casimiro Marcinkus He is perhaps one of the prelates best known by the general public. His name is usually attributed to the scandals of collapse of Banco Ambrosiano and the parable of Michele Sindona, the Sicilian financier who ended his life in prison after drinking cyanide-laced coffee. Marcinkus’s fame caused his name to end up many times in judicial chronicles that have nothing to do with him. A portrait of a well-known character emerges in Anfossi’s book, although without the excesses circulated to connect it with the present.
Those who saw him work during the years he was president of the IOR say they remember him with the “feet on the desk and the bottle of Coca Cola in the middle of the papersThe rumors about his passion for Cuban cigars and golf are confirmed, to which are also added those of Roman Stornelli and the songs of the little king Claudio Villa. From the result of Marcinkus i links with Calvi and Sindona and the Bank’s participation in the operations of both, as evidenced by the participations in Banca Privata and Banco Ambrosiano.
However, some are denied. black legends: for example, Sindona’s claim to have played a role in appointing Marcinkus to head the IOR in 1971 is declassified as bragging. In fact, Patti’s financier already had ties to the Institute, having given strategic consultancies to get rid of it. some investments that are no longer profitable.
Who wanted him in that role to which, apparently, the American archbishop did not want to go? Don Pascual MacchiSecretary of Paul VIHe is one of those suspected of having helped Marcinkus’s career but he himself assured years later that Montini did not want to name him and that he was the then very powerful substitute in the Secretary of State, the future cardinal who insisted John Benelli who, however, after the Ambrosiano crash wrote to his superior, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, to request the resignation.
What brings Calvi and Sindona closer to the IOR is the ambition to give international profile to their respective banks exploiting the image of the Vatican. It was Sindona who introduced Marcinkus to Calvi, but the latter at one point became his privileged interlocutor despite Patti’s financier who fell into misfortune. Not surprisingly, in the American process pr il Franklin Bank collapse, the then president of the IOR refused to testify in favor of Sindona. Later, when judicial problems touched Calvi, the directors of the Institute closed the doors to the new high management of Ambrosiano who questioned the letters of sponsorship granted by the IOR to Calvi to guarantee the debt situation from some foreign companies controlled by the Bank, relying on other letters signed by the Milanese banker exonerating the Institute from any responsibility.
The story of the Ambrosian crash was also at the origin of a confrontation between Italy and the Holy See with the harsh reprimand of the then Minister of Finance, the Catholic Benjamin Andreatta. The latter asked the IOR for 1,159 million dollars. But the Vatican questioned the responsibility attributed to the IOR and in the end, without the consent of Marcinkus, it was decided to pay 250 million dollars as a voluntary contribution and not as compensation. Giovagnoli in his prologue to Anfossi’s book points out how “the case of Banco Ambrosiano is eloquent: it does not seem that Marcinkus really participated in Calvi’s criminal plots and it is not impossible that his trust was betrayed by the ‘owner’ of Ambrosiano“. However, the responsibility of the American archbishop to have to himself does not hide reliable of figures such as the Milanese banker and Michele Sindona.
The legend of money in Solidarnosc
Solidarity is the anti-communist Lech Walesa union founded in the 1980s in Poland that found support from its more famous compatriot, John Paul II. For years, precisely this proximity to the Holy Pope has been at the origin of the legend of the financing of the IOR in the coffers of the clandestine organization at the time of the Soviet bloc. However, both Marcinkus and the secretary of Karol Wojtyla, Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz, have denied this circumstance. Lech Walesa himself has affirmed that the Polish Church probably financed the union, but he has also specified that he does not know where that money came from. Angelo Caloia, Marcinkus’ successor as president of the IOR, told the author of the book that “in reality there is no trace that the funding of Solidarnosc has passed from the IOR“.
In any case, Marcinkus, denying the sending of funds to the union, was encouraged to say “if he had actually done it, given the turn of events that followed, he would deserve a gold medalThe most talked about president in the Institute’s history ended his earthly days in Sun City, Arizona, where he celebrated mass on Sundays for Lithuanian emigrants like himself. The epilogue was left without gold medals: Marcinkus received a pension worth 2000 euros and I was forced to ask for one donation of 10 thousand dollars to the Institute of which he was president to be able to operate in his old age.