Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Confrontation before the conclave

Andrea Tornielli
Vatican Insider
March 12, 2013

A wind of change blows on the Conclave. For the management of the Curia, for Vatican finances and for a new collegiality that can also function as a deterrent from the risk of a "private-sector-like" management of the Church's assets. The last General Congregation, now on the eve of the conclave, has seen the return of the IOR, the "Vatican Bank", as a protagonist in an exchange between cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz. Even a long-time curial such as cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who in the Sistine Chapel will perform the functions of Dean, in taking the floor said that the Curia needs to be changed. While the Brazilian papable Scherer spoke in defence of the Curia.

The push for a new evangelisation, a principal point on the agenda for the new Pontiff and a central theme in the current discussions, cannot be separated from a reform of the curial structures, from greater collegiality or from a serious assessment of whether or not to keep an Oltretevere bank alive.

Vatican spokesman father Federico Lombardi said that Bertone "in concise form" spoke of the "nature of the IOR" and of the "procedure for the inclusion in the international Moneyval system" against money laundering. Lombardi also acknowledged the desire of several cardinals to see more clearly in regards to recent events at the "Vatican Bank" that, as of a few days ago, has a new president.

What happened in the meeting room then? Bertone criticised Braz de Aviz for having expressed last Saturday his dissent on the management of the IOR and more generally of the Roman Curia, and for the fact that the dissent had been made public. He suspects him of having leaked the content of his speech to the Italian press. Braz de Aviz did not let the words of the former Secretary of State fall on deaf ears. He asked to speak again and curtly denied having leaked something to the outside. The Brazilian cardinal suspects, rather, that the information may have been filtered by the "organisation". Several cardinals, at this point, applauded.

Going beyond this exchange, which in any case testifies to the freedom and frankness characterizing the discussion, there were several interventions last week during in which updates on IOR were requested. There were also questions about the still unclear circumstances of the dismissal of banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, which occurred a few days after he had sent a letter to Bertone making him aware of his desire to "remove his confidence" in Vatican Bank Director Paolo Cipriani and in another manager.

Father Lombardi wanted to clarify that "the situation of the IOR is not the main criteria on the election of the Pope". It would be misleading to think that the real or alleged scandals surrounding the management of Vatican finances have monopolized the discussion. The cardinals, even those who come from outside, even those, and there are many, who call for a decisive change of course, know they have to elect a new Pope; a spiritual man not an expert on money laundering. But the words of an African papable, Abujia Archbishop John Onaiyekan, are very eloquent when, in an interview to the Italian TV channel La7, he said: "The IOR is not essential to the Holy Father's Ministry as successor of Peter. I don't know if St. Peter had a bank. The IOR is not essential; it is not sacramental; it is not dogmatic".

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