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WRITTEN OFF: Debt used by Vatican to finance religious films wiped clean

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/10/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Vatican's former Secretary of State stands by investment

Pope Francis has tried to loosen ties between the Catholic Church and Italy's business and political world. The pontiff considers this longstanding network of relations improper and antithetical to the Church's religious mission. To this end, the Vatican has written off an investment of 15 million euros to fund religious films.

The Vatican's at-the-time Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ordered the investment in Lux Vide SpA. He said the company shared the Holy See's 'lofty goal of evangelization.'

The Vatican's at-the-time Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ordered the investment in Lux Vide SpA. He said the company shared the Holy See's "lofty goal of evangelization."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/10/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Poep Francis, debt, TV station, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, Lux Vide SpA


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Vatican bank two years ago invested in an Italian television company that makes family movies, including films about popes and a series about a bike-riding country priest who helps police solve crimes.

The Vatican's at-the-time Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ordered the investment in Lux Vide SpA. He said the company shared the Holy See's "lofty goal of evangelization."

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Bertone, who was the second-in-command to former Pope Benedict, pushed the deal through despite objections from the bank's director and board members.

The Vatican last month booked a loss for the entire amount spent, as part of a wider review of Vatican finances that has also led to the closure of hundreds of accounts at the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR.

The Vatican bank two years ago invested in an Italian television company that makes family movies, i

The Vatican bank two years ago invested in an Italian television company that makes family movies, including films about popes and a series about a bike-riding country priest who helps police solve crimes.


Bertone still stands by the decision to invest in the television company, said that when the bank approved the deal it did so with the board's unanimous consent.
Pope Francis, in his first 16 months in office, Pope Francis has strived to reform the Curia, as the Vatican's central administration is called. He has hired international consulting firms to improve financial accounting procedures. He has also given broad economic powers to an Australian cardinal seen as distant from the centers of power in Italy.

One of the biggest changes has been to curtail the powers of the Vatican Secretary of State, in particular over the Holy See's financial affairs.

The Secretary of State has always held an important role, serving effectively as deputy pope. Bertone had amassed an unusually overarching power over Vatican administration and finances when he held the role between 2006 and 2013.

Former Pope Benedict reportedly had little interest in administrative affairs and gave Bertone free rein in running the Vatican administration.

According to former bank executives, Bertone backed a proposal for the IOR to buy up to 25 percent of Lux Vide in 2010 and, again in 2012. The bank's directors tried to reject the deal both times, saying it was not in the IOR's interest to invest in television companies.

But the deal was eventually approved. "The board said 'this is not a good idea' but could not block the deal," a current bank official said. "The message was: the boss (Bertone) wants this."

However -- under the new structure created by Pope Francis, Bertone's successor as Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has no direct power over any of the financial affairs of the Holy See, including the IOR and APSA, the Vatican's asset management and investment arm. Pope Francis appointed an independent team of experts to oversee APSA, a sprawling entity that controls the Vatican's real estate holdings and acts as a central purchasing and human resources department, to see whether its deals are central to the mission of the Church.

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