Holy See remains in crisis following ousting of Vatican bank president


THREE DAYS after the sensational arrest of Pope Benedict’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, and four days after the dismissal of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of Vatican bank IOR, the Holy See remains in crisis.

In a climate that smells of a witch hunt, further arrests are predicted as Vatican police attempt to solve “Vatileaks”, the leaking of private documentation from the papal apartment.

In an audience with the Renewal in the Holy Spirit movement on Saturday, Pope Benedict appeared to make reference to the current difficulty when quoting St Matthew: “And the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

With the ex-butler Mr Gabriele still in detention (in a Vatican gendarmerie holding room, since there is no Vatican prison), those winds continue to blow. Furthermore, as the international clamour makes itself more manifest, there were all the indications powerful figures in the Holy See were busily engaged in a Stalinist-style rewrite of history.

Firstly, a number of Holy See commentators have tried to suggest there is no link between the dismissal of the IOR president on Thursday and the arrest on Friday of the butler, accused of having stolen documents from the papal apartment. Yet one of the accusations levelled against Gotti Tedeschi on Thursday concerned his inability to explain “the dissemination of documents last known to be in the president’s possession”.

Secondly, various Italian media sources yesterday carried reports of the internal IOR memo drawn up after that Thursday meeting by board member Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. In it, the sacked president, hitherto hailed as a radical reformer, is portrayed as erratic, uninformed, inaccurate, imprudent and someone who did not bother attending board meetings.

Did it really take the IOR board three years to discover Gotti Tedeschi was an idiot, or is it possible that someone, Stalinist-style, is trying to wipe him out of the IOR family album?

The Thursday memo accuses Gotti Tedeschi of “increasingly erratic” behaviour. Is that true, or was the real “erratic” nature of his behaviour his attempt to impose international, anti-money laundering norms at IOR?