False names on bank accounts, hidden funds transfers, ties to Mafia moneymen and flagrant violations of international banking laws. No, this isn’t the plot to some John Grisham novel, this is business as usual in Vatican City.
About two months ago Italian authorities seized about 30 million dollars in Vatican funds, citing violation of anti-money laundering laws. It came out a day or two ago that these seizures, which the Vatican had characterized as misunderstandings, are most likely going to lead to charges of money laundering. This comes at the same time that Sicilian authorities have stated that one of the Vatican banks has been involved in at least one case of washing money for the Mafia.
It would be nice to say that this was a shock, but it is hardly a new phenomenon for the Roman Catholic Church to be involved in banking scandals.
Have you ever heard the name Paul “The Gorilla” Marcinkus? No, he isn’t a professional wrestler. Paul Marcinkus was a Catholic priest. Born in Cicero, Illinois, Marcinkus would parlay his humble beginnings into a life of impressive political power. He became a priest in Illinois, but went on to study canon law at Gregorian University in Vatican City. From here be began his rise to power, befriending several popes years before they were elected. Marcinkus gained a reputation as a staunch supporter of papal authority and, even after being appoint an archbishop, was the unofficial bodyguard of the pope. The Gorilla nickname came from the fact that Marcinkus was a very large and intimidating figure. He even saved Pope John Paul II from an assassination attempt.