With an unprecedented trial, Francis deepens the fight against corruption in the Vatican

Sergio Rubin

The third part of the famous saga “The Godfather”, by Francis Ford Coppola, at the beginning of the ’90s, finished putting on the table corruption around Vatican finances. Beyond the licenses that its director took, mainly the shady deals at the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s of the funds of the Vatican bank were exposed with the concurrence of clergy with few scruples and finance men linked to the italian mafia.

A financier who appeared hanging under a bridge, a poisoned lawyer in jail and even the suspicions -in the film it is an assertion- that a Pope -John Paul I- was also suspicious for having tried to clean up the economic situation, while a The powerful archbishop took refuge in his Vatican citizenship to escape justice, they completed a picture that was truly a movie, but – to the scandal of the Church – with much reality.

The years passed but economic scandals continued, although not with the rugged edging that Coppola recreates in his own way. During the papacy of Benedict XVI a document leak from his desk – known as the Vatileak– brought to light more current alleged corruptions along with power struggles within the small state that led the German Pope to create an investigative commission and pushed him to his historic resignation.

In the debates among the cardinals prior to the election of Francisco It arose as a cry that the new pontiff had to confront this problem with force – in addition to the scourge of sexual abuse -, deepening the path started by Benedict XVI, to provide the Church with transparency and end not only with the embezzlement of funds, but with the impression that the Vatican is a tax haven.

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Francisco was clear about it, although he did not have it easy. Even in the early years suffered the occasional new scandal. But above all a network of bad investments of Vatican resources for about 300 million euros, among which the purchase of a luxurious building in an elegant London neighborhood stood out with the concurrence of financial operators who would have made juicy profits.

Those events took on even more dimension because funds from the so-called Óbolo de San Pedro were used, the body that concentrates the donations of the faithful for the Pope’s charitable works. And, particularly, because it involves whoever was number three in the Vatican structure, the once powerful Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, when he was a kind of Vatican vice secretary of state.

The scandal was unleashed when the director of the IOR – the so-called Vatican Bank – informed Francis that there had been very strange money movements, which led the pontiff to order a preliminary investigation that led to the request for the resignation of Becciu, then president of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, and his separation from the College of Cardinals.

After the evidence obtained by the investigation and the testimony of a repentant clergyman, Francisco ordered the beginning of a trial against Becciu, two clergymen, two secular Vatican officials and five financial operators, headed by three prestigious magistrates, including a renowned former Italian anti-mafia prosecutor and a former Italian Justice Minister.

Previously, Francis had arranged that the cardinals already they would not be judged by their peersbut by tribunals composed of lay jurists, as is the case with all Vatican officials and employees. This was among the many measures he took during his pontificate to make Vatican finances transparent and punish the corrupt.

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Furthermore, Jorge Bergoglio ordered that reputable international agencies intervene to monitor Vatican financesAs is the case with Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s money laundering control body, which, in a recent report, highlighted that Francisco’s efforts were yielding really encouraging results.

The mega trial that has Becciu as the main figure -began last week- it is unprecedented in the history of the Church. There are those who assure that there are already filmmakers thinking of also taking this story to the big screen.

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