The legendary wealth of the Vatican, gathered over the centuries, is again in the news.

    Pope Francis has just decided to place all of the Vatican accounts under the control of one central authority: the Vatican bank, also known as the Institute for the Works of Religion.

    Below, reports on this decision, as well as reports on the apparent rehabilitation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, and the life of American Benedictine Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who died yesterday at the age of 95. —RM

    Rescript of the Holy Father Francis on the Instruction on the Administration and Management of the financial assets and liquidity of the Holy See and of the Institutions connected with the Holy See

    Published August 23, 2022


    Instruction on the administration and management of financial assets and liquidity of the Holy See and of the institutions connected with the Holy See.

    1. The Holy Father Francis, in the audience granted to the Secretary of State, on 22 August, decided to issue this Instruction on the administration and management of the financial assets and liquidity of the Holy See and of the institutions connected with it.

    2. The Holy Father has disposed that it should have the nature of an authentic interpretation of the provisions in force and have firm and stable force, notwithstanding anything contrary, even if prior to the Rescript or specifically referring to special things.

    3. Article 219, paragraph 3, of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, issued on 19 March 2022, must be interpreted as meaning that the activity of asset manager and depositary of the movable assets of the Holy See and of the institutions connected with the Holy See it is the exclusive responsibility of the Institute for Works of Religion.

    4. The Holy See and the Institutions connected with the Holy See that are holders of financial assets and liquidity, in whatever form they are held, in financial institutions other than the IOR must inform the IOR and transfer them to it as soon as possible within 30 days from 1 September 2022.

    5. It enters into force immediately through publication in the Osservatore Romano. Any acts previously adopted in discrepancy must be brought into compliance with these instructions.


    The Associated Press published the following report on the Pope’s decision regarding the Vatican’s money. (See also the report of Phil Pullella of Reuters at this link.)


    Pope imposes deadline for Vatican to transfer assets to bank (link)

    By the Associated Press

    August 23, 2022 at 8:46 a.m. EDT

    ROME — Pope Francis on Tuesday imposed an Oct. 1 deadline for all Holy See offices and Vatican-linked institutions to deposit their assets with the Vatican bank.

    Francis’ decree follows his decision earlier this year to entrust management of all Vatican assets to one office — the patrimony office known as APSA — in a bid to end decades of mismanagement that culminated with a scandal over a 350 million-euro investment in a London property. Ten people, including former Vatican officials and external brokers, are on trial in the Vatican tribunal on finance-related charges related to the deal.

    The Vatican’s economy ministry in July issued a new investment policy requiring all Vatican departments to transfer their assets and investments to APSA via its accounts at the Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR. No specific deadline was given, but the decree published Tuesday says all assets must be transferred by Sept. 30.

    The need for a new decree imposing a fixed deadline and stressing there were no exceptions to the regulation suggests some offices or institutions were hoping to keep external accounts or investments.

    The Vatican bank has long been mired in scandal but has spent the past decade cleaning up its books and ridding itself of its reputation as an offshore tax haven. Years of reform have slimmed down its client list to Vatican offices, employees, religious congregations and embassies.

    It currently has some 5.1 billion euros in assets under management and reported 18 million euros in profits last year. The bank had previously donated 50 million euros a year of its profits to the pope to pay for the Vatican bureaucracy, but profits have fallen in recent years. 

    And here is an account by an accomplished Italian journalist, Maria Antonietta Calabrò, who writes for the Huffington Post. Here is a link to the Italian original (link).


    The Pope gets rid of the banks, only the IOR will be able to administer the Vatican finances (link)

    By Maria Antonietta Calabrò

    August 23, 2022

    No more resorting to Italian or foreign institutes. The movable assets, the accounts, the financial funds, must compulsorily return to the Torrione di Niccolò V on October 1st.

    Only the IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, will deal exclusively with the money of the Pope, the Vatican and the Holy See. It can no longer be Italian or foreign banks.

    The Vatican’s real estate, its various accounts, its financial investments must compulsorily return to the Torrione di Niccolò V [the round tower just inside the St. Anne’s Gate where the Vatican bank is located, inside Vatican City] next October 1st.

    Vatican congregations and other offices will in fact have thirty days from next September 1st.

    This was established by the Pope on the basis of a post-audience rescript of the Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, which has the character of an authentic interpretation of the norm already set forth in the new Constitution of the Roman Curia which will be illustrated to the cardinals who will come to Rome from all over the world this coming weekend.

    In this way, not only will the money of the Holy See return to the Vatican from all over the world, first from Italy and Switzerland and then even including various tax havens (more or less exotic), so as to ensure what has taken place with funds of the Secretariat of State will never occur again [Note: the author is referring to the investment of those funds in the building in London which is now the subject of a court trial in Vatican City.]

    In the recent past these Vatican funds were kept at Credit Suisse and in. the Banca per la Svizzera Italiana (this latter closed by the Swiss authorities for money laundering) and were partly invested in the London building on Sloane Avenue, for which there is currently in the Vatican a trial against 10 defendants.

    Even St. Peter’s Pence (the collection of funds from the faithful all over the world for the Pope’s activities, on June 29 of each year) was deposited in Switzerland by the Secretariat of State.

    The activity of asset manager and depositary for the movable assets of the Holy See and associated institutions is now the exclusive responsibility of the Institute for the Works of Religion.

    The Secretariat of State had deposited its funds in Switzerland and not in the IOR.

    The same now applies to entities and Congregations with accounts in Italian banks, even small private banks.

    Although the new Apostolic Constitution for the reform of the Curia was signed by Francis on March 19, 2022, and entered into force on June 5, many entities had resisted the mandatory transfer to the IOR, citing juridical reasons in the wording of the norm.

    The Pope has now made it clear that there is no longer any possibility of bypassing the new law.

    [End, piece by Calabrò]

    The Passing of Rembert Weakland

    Rembert Weakland, once the head of the worldwide Benedictine Order and then the archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for 25 years until his retirement amid scandal in 2002, has died at the age of 95.

    He died in the night between Sunday and Monday, August 21 and 22, at Clement Manor, a Greenfield, Wisconsin senior living center.

    “Weakland served as Milwaukee archbishop for 25 years before stepping down in 2002 amid a scandal that involved paying hush money to a man who had accused him of sexual assault,” Annysa Johnson and Sophie Carson wrote today on the Milwaukee Journal. (link)

    “Weakland had denied the allegations,” the two continued. “He would come out as openly gay — possibly the first Catholic bishop to voluntarily do so — in his 2009 memoir A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church.”

    Weakland’s resignation came “as the public was beginning to grasp the scope of the Church’s global crisis involving the sexual abuse of minors,” the two added. “Weakland, who protected abusive priests and at least initially treated complaints about them with disdain, came to be a face of the crisis in southeastern Wisconsin, a fate that would obscure his earlier accomplishments for the rest of his life.”


    I knew Archbishop Weakland, who was almost precisely the same age as my own father — my father was born in 1926 and Weakland in 1927.

    He was a man of considerable learning, a scholar of music, a pianist, a man who knew Latin well, a thoughtful, sensitive man.

    “A Benedictine monk, Weakland was seen by many as brilliant; he spoke more than a half-dozen languages, and his ability to communicate with people from across the world facilitated his career advancement,” Johnson and Carson wrote. “He was an accomplished musician, having learned as a boy to play an old upright piano his grandmother had bought for his mother. He considered becoming a concert pianist, and studied in Europe and at the Juilliard School in New York. Throughout much of his life, he studied, played, taught, lectured or wrote about music. In 1999, he received his doctorate in musicology from Columbia University in New York. His dissertation was titled The’ Office Antiphons of the Ambrosian Chant.'”

    They add: “In 1967, at the age of 40, he was elected abbott primate for the Benedictine Confederation. He was the youngest to ever hold the position, and the first American. His years as leader of the Benedictines cemented his relationship with Pope Paul VI and made him something of a global citizen. Of note, he was in Thailand in 1968 presiding at a meeting of monastic superiors when one of the speakers, Thomas Merton, was tragically killed by an electric shock. Weakland delivered the final anointing to the famed Trappist monk, writer and mystic.”


    Johnson and Carson add (link):

    “Weakland retired in 2002 after acknowledging that he used $450,000 in Church funds to buy the silence of a male lover who years later broke that deal and accused him publicly of date rape. Weakland maintained that the relationship was consensual.

    “He was succeeded by Timothy Dolan, now cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York.

    “Weakland withdrew from public ministry, saying he did not want to be a distraction. He spent his days reading, playing the piano, attending the symphony and traveling. He shunned interviews. He lived in a condominium in a south side senior housing complex near Wilson Park before moving to Clement Manor in Greenfield.”


    We disagreed profoundly on many points, especially on the question of the Church’s liturgy.

    I corresponded with him on the matter.

    Archbishop Weakland urged me not to be so intransigent in my loyalty to the Church’s liturgical tradition.

    There was an urgent need to “inculturate” the faith, he told me.

    Therefore, the Church’s liturgy, in the America of the 1980s and 1990s, that is, in modern America, needed to reflect American culture, he said.

    “And our American culture is a ‘shlock’ culture, not a refined culture,” Weakland summed up to me. “Therefore, our liturgy must reflect that ‘schlock’ American culture. That is the only liturgy our people will feel comfortable with.”

    [Note: the dictionary says “schlock” means “something, such as merchandise or literature, that is inferior or poorly made; of inferior quality; cheap or shoddy; anything cheap or inferior; trash.”] (link)

    I replied to the archbishop that the Church ought to offer her perennial liturgy, the old liturgy, to instruct the faithful, to draw people out of themselves, and out of our culture, and direct them inward and upward, toward the holy, toward the divine, and not simply acquiesce with their low, unrefined, cultural level.

    “Offer something more to the people, and they will be drawn to it, and learn from it,” I argued.



    Now Archbishop Weakland has passed away. Our discussions have come to an end. It is not good to speak ill of the dead. So I pray that he may rest in peace in the Lord, and that eternal light may shine upon him.


    Here is a piece today from The Pillar by JD Flynn which speaks of Weakland, after speaking of Cardinal Becciu, the Italian cardinal who is on trial in the Vatican for his handling of the London building purchase and sale:    

    Archbishop Weakland, Becciu is still on trial… (link)

    The Tuesday Pillar Post

    By JD Flynn

    August 23, 2022


    Cardinal Angelo Becciu was once the pontiff’s right-hand man, until he became mired in financial scandal, and in 2020 was dismissed from the privileges that come with being a cardinal. He is now on trial in the Vatican City State, on charges of embezzlement and abuse of office, conspiracy, and subornation of witnesses.

    He has been mostly a persona non grata in the last few years.

    Until this week, apparently.

    In a bit of shocking news, Becciu announced while offering Mass on Sunday that Pope Francis had just called him up, invited him to attend a consistory, or meeting, of cardinals on Saturday, and told him his rights and privileges as a cardinal would be reinstated.

    Becciu, again, is still on trial. So here’s the more shocking news. The Vatican’s state media apparatus confirmed the cardinal’s announcement on Monday — at least part of it. Vatican Media announced that Becciu will indeed be attending the cardinals’ consistory, at the request of Pope Francis.  

    Again, Becciu is still on trial.

    So, an apparent message from Pope Francis that his censure has been lifted is a surprise — and a confusing one.

    What does all this meanEd wrote a full analysis, which you should read.

    But if you want my short take, it’s this, in a few points-

  • It’s possible that Becciu is exaggerating about the pope’s plans to “reinstate” him. The cardinal is given to hyperbole. Recall that he sued the Italian media for ruining his chance of becoming pope. But if he’s not exaggerating, and the pope does plan to restore Becciu to full status, it’s possible that Becciu could participate in the next papal conclave — the meeting to elect the next pope — while he is still a defendant in a Vatican City trial for extortion.

    Because Becciu, again, is still on trial.

  • It’s possible, and perhaps most likely, that Pope Francis invited Becciu to the consistory, and maybe even made some overtures toward “reinstatement” out of a sense of pity for Becciu — that would be in character with Pope Francis, who has expressed sympathy for the cardinal in the past, even offering Holy Thursday Mass with him in 2021.
  • At the same time, Becciu is still on trial. And a major gesture of support from Pope Francis certainly could throw the court proceedings into some disarray — however independent the judiciary is, the pope is still the chief judge, and sovereign, of Vatican City State — so signaling some “pardon” for Becciu’s alleged crimes causes confusion.
  • Conspiracy-minded folks will soon begin to say that Francis is “reinstating” Becciu because he is concerned that Becciu will speak openly about the pontiff’s handling of Bishop Oscar Zanchetta or other controversial matters, about which Becciu would have very specific information, because of his one-time role as a close Francis deputy. The cardinal does have a lot of information about controversial elements of the papacy, but I’m not conspiracy-minded — I tend to think that if Francis is actually “restoring” Becciu to his former status, it’s out of some sense of pity for the accused former official.

    The problem with that? Here’s what Francis wrote wisely just last year: “The failure to understand the close connection that exists in the Church between the exercise of love and the application of penal discipline whenever circumstances and justice require it, has caused much harm in the past.”

    Becciu is, after all, still on trial.

    But those are a few quick thoughts. For a more exhaustive treatment, read our initial report on Becciu’s announcement here, and then read Ed’s comprehensive and thoughtful analysis.


The late Archbishop Rembert Weakland
Credit: Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    More on Archbishop Weakland…

    (link to The Pillar, source of the text below)

    By JD Flynn

    August 23, 2022


    Finally, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, formerly of Milwaukee, died Monday. He was 95 years old.

    Weakland is widely regarded as one of the most ignominious Churchmen in American Catholic history.

    The bishop was, in his day, the lion of the American Catholic left — he called for the ordination of women, excoriated the Church’s teaching on sexuality and contraception, and urged his priests to conduct “experiments” in living — urging them out of their parish rectories, and into apartments instead. He was regarded as a liturgical “innovator” par excellence.

    While he advocated for a broader social safety net for the poor, Weakland also lobbied to give abuse victims less time to file in court, and urged “flexibility” on legal tolerance for abortion.

    But while his record as a bishop and teacher of the faith might have otherwise been debated among Catholics, the details of his personal life, and his handling of sexual abuse, overshadowed anything else that might be said of him.

    He was publicly accused in 2002 of sexually assaulting a younger man in the 1980s, and of later paying him off with “hush money,” as he called it, taken from the coffers of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee — money which he paid back, years later, with earnings from his book sales.

    [Note: Though apparently the money he paid back from his own income was c. $200,000, not the total of $450,000 that he paid out from Church coffers.]

    Weakland eventually apologized for the “scandal” of his conduct, but insisted things were consensual. While the man said he’d been raped by Weakland, the archbishop said he was “in love,” and he regarded the whole thing as “an affair.”

    In fact, Weakland admitted in 2009 to having several relationships with men during his tenure as an archbishop, which he chalked up to “loneliness that became very strong.”

    Beyond the personal allegation of sexual assault, Weakland has become associated with the worst excesses of the Church’s institutional cover-up of sexual abuse.

    Famously, the bishop is often remembered for a 1993 admission that he shredded reports on abusive priests after he had read them. For a bishop notorious for covering up abuse, the anecdote seems perfectly illustrious. As it happens, the bishop’s actual practice was strange, but not exactly what it sounds like — Weakland was not admitting to shredding the reports themselves, but the copies sent to his office — the files themselves were logged elsewhere.

    But the broader picture — that Weakland was aggressive in his efforts to cover up sexual abuse allegation — is indisputable.

    As Archbishop of Milwaukee, he frequently oversaw the transfer of sexually abusive priests between parishes, has been accused of castigating victims, and coercing them into signing settlement agreements which prevented abusers from seeing justice, and is known for suing abuse victims to recover archdiocesan court costs.

    “No bishop before or after Weakland has deployed such an aggressive tactic to intimidate and silence victims,” the advocacy group Nate’s Mission said Monday.

    Once the global primate of the Benedictine order, his own monastery, where he had once been abbot, told Weakland in his retirement that he was not welcome there.

    His name was removed from the chancery building in Milwaukee in 2019.


    [End, The Pillar report on Archbishop Weakland’s life following his death yesterday]

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