Lights illuminate St. Peter's Basilica in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Jan. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Vatican denounces offshore tax havens as harming the poor

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is denouncing offshore tax havens and financial instruments such as derivatives and credit default swaps as gravely immoral and unjust, calling them “ticking time bombs” that hurt the world’s poor the most.

In a new document released Thursday, the Vatican’s doctrine office teamed up with its social justice department to give a more solid moral foundation to the Holy See’s oft-repeated call for a more ethical global financial system.

The document, approved by Pope Francis, calls for banks to create internal ethical committees to ensure decisions work for the common good and not just the “myopic egoism” of individual corporate bottom lines. It urged better regulation of financial products and for universities to educate the next generation of business leaders about ethics, not just profits.

“The recent financial crisis could have been the occasion to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and a new regulation of financial activities neutralizing the predatory and speculative dimensions,” it said.

Instead, the global financial players have returned to the “heights of myopic egoism” that excludes any consideration of the common good or the need to spread wealth and heal economic inequality, it said.

Notably missing from the document was a call for a global political authority to regulate markets and tax financial transactions. The Vatican’s social justice office, which co-authored the new document, had recommended such an authority in a 2011 document that was widely dismissed even within the Vatican.

Francis and popes before him have frequently denounced the growing income inequality and profit-at-all-cost mentality that drives global capitalism, including in encyclicals and other authoritative teaching documents.

Officials told a news conference Thursday that they thought it was worth articulating considerations about specific aspects of the current economic-financial system for officials who work in the field.

The effort marks something of a shift in attention for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which under the past two popes has focused on issues of doctrinal orthodoxy and sexual morality, not social justice and the poor.

History’s first Latin American pope, however, has made those issues the priority of his pontificate, and the document’s publication suggests the Vatican bureaucracy is getting the message.


  1. How much money do they have in the bank?

  2. Another “Waiting for Godot” moment at the Vatican?

  3. The Vatican is reportedly worth $10 – $15 billion with a variety of investments. What hypocrites!

  4. Instead of wasting time criticizing banking rules, here’s what the pope needs to address ASAP before his religion implodes:

    • The inadequate response to the inappropriate conduct of many priests, the emotional stress on the victims, the resultant $1 billion in lawsuits and bankrupt dioceses.

    • The lack of talent in the priesthood, the lack of Vatican response to the historic Jesus movement, the Church’s continuing to cling to original sin and the resulting subsets of crazy ideas like baptism and limbo.

    • The denial of priesthood to women, the restriction of priesthood to single men (unless they are former Episcopalian priests), the continued chain of Vatican “leadership” by old white men and natural “birth control” leading to many unplanned pregnancies and resultant abortions.

    • Uncontrolled suffering of the elderly and infirm that need not be and unrealistic dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, atonement and papal infallibility.

  5. “When Hell freezes over” comes to mind.

  6. Brother, it’s good to see you acknowledge original sin. Normally when you discount something, you state the negative and back it up with six pages of data. I feel like we’re making progress.

  7. You might want to reread my comments.

  8. You might want to rewrite your comments.

  9. I have never seen any financial data which indicates “(t)he Vatican” has $10-15 billion in liquid assets of any kind.

    The Vatican Bank has about $8 billion in assets. Formally known as the Institute of Works of Religion, it has a small number of actual bank accounts held by residents of Vatican City, but the bulk of it is assets of various religious charities, orders, and so on held in trust and not available to the Church as a whole.

    The Vatican City State, which governs Vatican City, runs surpluses in the range of €30 to €60 million a year. It does have assets in the billions, but the bulk of that is in the actual buildings themselves and their contents, which include the Vatican museums and several large churches.

    The surpluses are used to finance the Holy See, which is the administrative component of the Church, with almost 3,000 employees and a payroll of more than €130 million annually.

    With 1.3 billion members, these numbers are hardly shocking.

  10. Wow. The Pope sure has chutzpah, given his own Vatican Bank’s past proclivities:

    That, of course, is in addition to the R.C. Church’s deplorable pattern of behavior regarding “priestly pedophilia,” in which the hierarchs actively worked to prevent clergy from prosecution and provided them new opportunities to prey on children. Then, once caught at this game, they’ve done nothing but blame anything and anyone other than them, for their own behavior:

    All I can say to this is what Jesus himself reportedly said: 

    “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:5) 

    “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” (Lk 6:42b) 

    “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (Jn 8:7). 

    Maybe the Pope should stick a crowbar into the Bible he long ago slammed shut and locked, and actually read the words inside of it. For once.  


    This article is 36 years old.

    As it all settled out, members of the Italian government, the Mafia, and a cast of dozens apparently scammed the Vatican, largely due to lax oversight. The Vatican “bank” paid out a substantial sum to make others whole without accepting liability.

    This article describes the indictment of Angelo Caloia, 78, and his lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo, 94, for embezzlement and money laundering, while president of the Institute for Works of Religion, the Vatican ”bank” during 2001 to 2008. The purported victim was the Institute for Works of Religion, which had to make good the losses.

    This five-year-old article describes the arrest of Nunzio Scarano in Rome. He was charged with fraud and corruption for attempting to smuggle €20m by private plane across the border from Switzerland.

    The allegations were that the former banker used his position at the Institute for Religious Works (the Vatican’s bank) to move money for businessmen based in the Naples region, widely regarded in Italy as a haven of organised crime.

    Three years later Scarano was acquitted of corruption charges but convicted of a lesser slander charge and given a two-year suspended sentence by the Rome court:

    This op-ed piece at a general readership religious magazine by a theology professor recaps a short litany of hunches, unsupported allegations, and what-not from WWII.

    A quick search indicates zero indictments, therefore zero convictions, and a general impression that like the discredited “Hitler’s Pope” this is simply more mud-throwing by those with axes to grind.

    What “priestly pedophilia” has to do with, other than your documented dislike if not hatred of Catholicism, is elusive.

    Maybe you should fact check your citations before leveling charges.

  12. Note that the deluded Christian nutcase, bigot, and NRA shill presenting himself in this thread as “Bob Arnzen” variously and dishonestly uses a variety of names on RNS such as Bob Arnzen, José Carioca, and others. However, there is actually no real Bob Arnzen, and there is no real José Carioca.

    It is recommended that you refer to him and reply to him stating his name as “Bobosé”, “BobbyJoe”, or just “snowflake”.

    The José Carioca account for this present post is used as a parody of “Bob Arnzen”.

  13. It is sad that you persist in creating new fake accounts

    after Disqus closes them one at a time for violating the prohibition against “Impersonation — misrepresents themselves as someone else”. Eventually Disqus will block your url and you’ll have to go to a public library to post.

    There is no Ben in Oakland, there is no Pope Hilarius II, there is no Moderator DC, there is no NoMoreBadTown, there is no PsiCop, and there is no Kangaroo52 because there is no ban on using pen names to avoid personal harassment, which is also a violation of Disqus terms of use.

    If you were able to carry on an actual discussion based on facts and reason we would not be reading your post, which makes clear who the deluded nutcase, bigot, etc. really is.


  14. Those were estimates from various unofficial sources but there is no doubt the church is very wealthy.

  15. Cash and wealth are two different things.

    Companies go bankrupt all the time chock-a-block with assets and devoid of cash.

  16. “….The document, approved by Pope Francis, calls for banks to create internal ethical committees to ensure decisions work for the common good and not just the “myopic egoism” of individual corporate bottom lines. ”

    The sequential leader of the most corrupt-evil organization mankind has ever endured – is speaking of ” ethics “….

  17. It is the largest land-owner in the world.

  18. Bishop Paul Marcinkus was the head of the IOR, and a major co-conspirator in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal along with Roberto Calvi, Michael Sindona, the Mafia, P2 and Pope John Paul II.
    Pope John Paul I learned of the corruption at the IOR, and was going to make changes when he was assassinated a month after becoming pope.
    Marcinkus was American/Lithuanian and spoke Polish fluently – as John Paul II spoke Lithuanian fluently. They conversed in Lithuanian as JPII was using BA, the IOR, various Panamanian paper corps and the Central Bank of Malta to serve as his piggy-bank, as he covertly sent hundreds-of-millions $ to Lech Walesa and the Solidarity Labor Union he founded – with the intent of overthrowing the communist govt of Poland.
    This is the prime reason Gen Jaruzelski declared martial-law in Poland late in 1981.
    One of the go-between actors between the Mafia and the Vatican was a priest who was a member of the Genovese Crime Family in Manhattan, as well as holding a position in the Vatican diplomatic corp. He was instrumentel in setting-up the paper corps in Central America.
    Also involved was a Papal Nuncio who went on to become a prominent Vatican cardinal.
    How would I know all this ? I was then, and am now, a confidante of the Genovese priest/diplomat.
    I was also 1 handshake away from JPI, and 2 away from JPII.

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