Rome, rendered

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Yesterday I went up to St. Eulalia’s in Winchester, Mass. to hear Jason Berry talk about his important new book, Render Unto Rome, to 50 or 60 members of Voice of the Faithful. No one has done more to investigate the underside of the contemporary Roman Catholicism than Berry, from his bringing to light the problem of sexual abuse of minors by priests back in the 1980s, to his work on Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ a decade ago, to his current exploration of, as the subtitle puts it, the secret life of money in the Catholic Church. Naturally, the ecclesiastical powers-that-be look at him as a turd in their punchbowl.

Render Unto Rome is rich in revelations, from the $2.3 billion in losses resulting from collection plate embezzlement in the U.S. over the past half-century to the financial wheeler-dealing of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. But perhaps Berry’s most egregious discovery concerns Peter’s Pence, the annual sum collected in June from parishes around the world for relief of the poor.

According to the USCCB website:

The Peter’s Pence Collection unites us in solidarity to the Holy See
and its works of charity to those in need. Your generosity allows the
Pope to respond to our suffering brothers and sisters with promptness,
love, and compassion, so God’s people will not feel alone in their time
of misfortune.  

However, of the $82 million received in 2009 (the last year for which figures are available) Berry was able to identify only $8.5 million that were actually spent on works of charity. Where the remaining 79 percent went the Vatican’s not saying, but Berry pointed out that through most of the 20th century, the revenues were used to shore up the Vatican’s operating budget. One might recall that it was the abuse of the Peter’s Pence Collection that so annoyed Martin Luther that he started the Reformation.

It would be nice if the news media and Catholics themselves took up the cause and began peppering Rome with inquiries about where all that alleged poor relief went–not to mention why someone like Sodano continues to occupy so exalted a position. Meanwhile, the USCCB has never seen fit to issue guidelines for the handling of collection plate receipts–the Church’s principal source of income. When they meet in Seattle next week, why not put that on their plate?

  • supersurvivor777

    the reason the roman catholic church gives an open cheque to their legal teams, forcing the abuse victims to fight a civil action for years is that to admit the truth would empty the church of catholics who fill the plates. discover northern ireland unexposed planet of child sex abuse commited by mother church.

  • JuneAnnette

    Raising a VOICE for the VICTIMS of R.C. Clergy Abuse . .
    “Suffer the little children” . . a flagrant abuse of power
    “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; nor hid, that shall not be known.” (Luke 12:2)
    The time is long overdue to tell the story of what has to be the most unreported news story of the century in the context of the Roman Catholic X files . . time to expose the brutal institutional abuse committed by RC clergy in Northern Ireland, of what can only be regarded as crimes against humanity, which the so-called “princes of the church” of Rome are working tirelessly to consign to history and keep hidden from the public eye, in what amounts to the MOTHER OF ROMAN CATHOLIC COVER UPS!.
    The time is come to expose the depraved men of the cloth in the RCC who subjected vulnerable children to a life of terror and torment, whom they abused with impunity and intimidated into silence.
    The time is come to expose the sick and twisted Romish paedophile priests who stole their innocence and consigned them to a life of unrelenting misery, fear, & trauma, reducing them to nothing more than chattel to be passed among themselves as play things to satisfy their insatiable and depraved sexual appetites. Time to tell the world of the forgotten children, whose harrowing stories of degradation, humiliation, shame, pain, suffering and sorrow cry unto Heaven above for justice and redress.
    Ex. 22:22-23: “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry . . “
    May God be pleased, in His mercy and providence, to bring the uncensored . . unedited account of these unspeakable crimes to light!
    ‘Catholicabusesurvivorsni’ –

  • Carolyn Disco

    Jason Berry’s book deserves as wide a readership as possible; it is a page turner of diocesan off-the-book accounts, and crimes like embezzlement and money-laundering.
    Indeed, where does the money go? Berry said the goal of the book is to explain the financial dynamics of the Church. He covers it from US dioceses to the Vatican in fascinating detail. Who knew?
    Bishops have enormous financial power and they operate both as tax collector and central banker. There is a vital need for separation of powers and a bona fide court system for accountability.
    US bishops as a group refuse to set standards for securing Sunday collections under the guise of lack of authority – when canon law provides measures to do so (if 2/3 agree) and then seek Vatican approval. Estimated losses are staggering.
    Independent outside audits of financial statements, not just for the central office, but all the funds and separate corporate entities it runs are needed. They should be published annually on diocesan websites.
    The only financial statement I can find on the Diocese of Manchester, NH website is for 2007, about three years behind in reporting.

  • Bruce Byrolly

    Please edit OUT of your articles, leads, etc. words like “turd”.
    This kind of cheap vulgarity discredits the soundness of your reporting.
    Thank you,
    Bruce Byrolly
    Cambridge MD

  • Mark Silk

    “Turd in the punchbowl” is a common expression, a bit vulgar to be sure, but in this instance le mot juste, I believe. If such vulgarity offends you, don’t watch this: