Louie Verrecchio
Money, sex and modernism
By Louie Verrecchio
October 1, 2015

An article by Italian journalist Maurizio Blondet is making the rounds alleging that Pope Benedict XVI was blackmailed into abdication by forces allied with SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), which had a hand in the shutdown of ATM and bank card services at the Vatican in January of 2012.

According to Blondet:

"There was a blackmail of Benedict XVI, coming from who knows where, through SWIFT. The underlying reasons for this have not been clarified, but it is clear that SWIFT has intervened directly in the management of affairs of the Church."

This particular theory is not entirely new. It has long been running concurrent with another theory; namely, that Pope Benedict XVI abdicated in sheer horror at the contents of the infamous 300 page report, given to him in December of 2012, detailing the activities of a Vatican "gay mafia."

Which one, if either, is correct?

No one knows for certain, but my money is on both, though not to the exclusion of other unknown factors.

Let's recap.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI launched an aggressive reform of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), often referred to as the Vatican Bank, appointing Ettore Gotti Tedeschi as President of its Board of Superintendence in order to spearhead the project.

Throughout his tenure, Gotti Tedeschi's efforts to bring the IOR up to international banking standards based upon financial transparency (aimed at eliminating money laundering and other criminal activities) met with much resistance from within.

In May of 2012, he was ousted following a "no confidence" vote on the part of the Board of Directors, after which he faced a number of criminal charges on which he has since been exonerated in the Italian courts.

At this point, it seems rather clear that Gotti Tedeschi was railroaded by men in powerful positions who, for reasons unknown, wanted him out of the way.

Following Gotti Tedeschi's ouster, Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, the Board's second in command, became acting head of the IOR until a process of finding Tedeschi's replacement could be completed.

News reports issued after the Board's unanimous no-confidence vote have drawn my attention squarely to the person of Tedeschi's interim replacement, Schmitz, the former Deutsche Bank Executive Director who allegedly drove the process that led to his removal.

Following the Board's no-confidence vote, it was then left up to the IOR's Supervisory Commission of Cardinals to either act, or not, upon the Board's recommendation to formally remove Gotti Tedeschi.

As the cardinals deliberated, Schmitz reportedly delivered an ultimatum to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Secretary of State and head of the Cardinal's Commission) that either Gotti Tedeschi be relieved of his position, or he himself would resign.

Though it was widely reported that the Commission of Cardinals was split as to how to respond, ultimately, they removed Gotti Tedeschi in May of 2012.

The result?

With Gotti Tedeschi gone and Schmitz acting as caretaker until a new President could be found, the reform of the IOR, if not effectively put on hold, brought to a veritable crawl.

It was during this period of time that the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval) determined that the IOR lacked appropriate oversight, and was, according to a report in the Financial Times, "compliant or largely compliant on only nine out of 16 core standards."

This set the stage for Italian banking regulators to pressure Deutsche Bank, which managed the Vatican's ATM machines and credit card payment services, to cease their services to the Holy See.

According to the Times:

"Deutsche did what regulators had hoped it would. On January 1 2013, a peak holiday time, there were no ATMs functioning anywhere inside Vatican City. Lines of visitors to the Sistine Chapel were unable to enter unless they paid in cash. "The message sent was simple: if you want to participate in the modern world, you have to adopt modern rules," says a senior banker at another correspondent bank."

It was reported that the move took the Vatican by surprise.


It strikes me as interesting that more attention isn't being paid to the role played by Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, the acting President of the IOR Board at the time, given his ties to Deutsche Bank.

I mean, one would think that the former Deutsche Bank Executive Director, even if unable to leverage his contacts within the German banking giant to forestall such a drastic move, would have at the very least been well aware of what was coming and could have perhaps taken steps to secure the services of another financial institution, as happened in short order soon afterwards.

This leads me to wonder where Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz's own interests may have lied as this was taking place.

Let me be clear; I have no information implicating Schmitz in any nefarious activity; I am simply making common sense observations and asking questions that, curiously enough, have apparently never been addresses by those in the media; in spite of the extensive coverage these events received.

In any case, one is still left to wonder what motivated Gotti Tedeschi's removal.

Given that the reform of the IOR, for all intents and purposes, was all but halted while interim President Schmitz acted as caretaker until a new President could be found, one might assume that this interruption alone was the primary motive.

It seems rather clear for reasons addressed below, however, that the motive went well beyond simply protecting the interests of those whose financial improprieties Gotti Tedeschi was laboring to uncover, making it seem far more likely Gotti Tedeshi's demise was undertaken in order to set in motion the events that would secure the abdication of the man who appointed him.

Circumstantial evidence strongly attesting to this being the case can be found in the fact that the Vatican reached an agreement with a Swiss firm to resume ATM and other bank card transactions effective February 12, 2013, just one day after Benedict XVI announced his intention to abdicate.

Indeed, as far as I can tell, nothing of note had changed between the cessation of bank card operations on January 1st and their resumption on February 12th relative to the Vatican Bank's compliance with international banking standards. Rather, the only noteworthy thing to change was the status of Benedict's pontificate.

Further evidence suggesting that the motives for Gotti Tedeschi's removal extended beyond mere financial concerns can be found in the fact that Pope Francis has since resumed the process of reforming the IOR, arguably, even more aggressively than his predecessor.

In truth, the process resumed in earnest even before Francis was elected.

On February 15, 2013, just four days after Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, a new IOR Board President was appointed, one Ernst von Freyberg, thus setting the reform process back in motion.

Once again, we see evidence that securing the abdication of the reigning pontiff was the real goal all along; i.e., hampering the IOR's reform was simply a means to an end, with Gotti Tedeschi being little more than a casualty of a much bigger war.

The question remains, if not exclusively to protect the interests of those who profited from the Vatican Bank's lack of transparency, what exactly was the primary motivation for those who wished to see Pope Benedict XVI removed?

The general answer, it seems, was to promote doctrinal and liturgical liberalism, but the more specific and far more relevant answer can be summed up in a word: homosexuality.

In the contents of a newly published authorized biography, Cardinal Godfried Danneels admitted to membership in a so-called "mafia club" that was organized to oppose the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI .

As reported by Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register:

"At the launch of the book in Brussels this week, the cardinal said he was part of a secret club of cardinals opposed to Pope Benedict XVI. The group wanted a drastic reform of the Church, to make it "much more modern," and for Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to head it. The group, which also comprised Cardinal Walter Kasper and the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, has been documented in Austen Ivereigh's biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer."

Cardinal Danneels, Kasper, and Martini never made any bones about their desire to see the Church modernized, in particular as it concerns the matter of homosexuality.

On June 5, 2013, with his dream of a Bergoglian pontificate realized, Cardinal Danneels, for his part, apparently felt empowered to speak with stunning candor to the Dutch language newspaper De Tijd saying:

"I think it's a positive development that states are free to open up civil marriage for gays if they want."

One wonders if he would have been quite so bold just a year earlier when Benedict XVI was still on the throne of St. Peter. I, for one, tend to doubt it.

In any case, with two and half years having passed since his elevation to the papacy, one can easily understand why Jorge Bergoglio was the "mafia club's" leader of choice, and furthermore, why Cardinal Danneels felt empowered to speak as candidly he did.

Pope Francis has clearly demonstrated his worthiness of Danneels' confidence since taking office, most notably in the publication of the interim relatio of Extraordinary Synod 2014; a document that hails the "gifts and qualities that homosexuals have to offer to the Christian community," and even goes so far as to challenge the faithful to "accept and value their sexual orientation."

Even so, I am not convinced that promoting the homosexual agenda is truly one of Francis' pet causes, though his sympathies toward it are obvious enough.

In a conversation with a fellow speaker at this past weekend's Catholic Identity Conference, a man with considerable international contacts, he informed me that he had spoken with a priest in Argentina shortly after the last papal election, asking him how the new pope is likely to treat the rumored Vatican "gay network."

To paraphrase the answer he was given: If it furthers his own interests to clamp down on it, he will; if not, he'll largely leave them alone.

With this in mind, I think it's reasonable to believe that Pope Francis is not so much a warrior in the cause of homo-militantism, but rather a modernist who is willing to make whatever concessions may be necessary in order to promote his own (aka the Council's) vision for a church-of-man; one in which temporal concerns, like poverty, reign supreme, and matters of doctrine and religious affiliation are of little importance.

As for the homosexual agenda itself, Pope Francis seems to knows very well, thanks in part to the example of his predecessor, that placating its powerful Vatican allies is imperative lest his own pontificate come to an untimely end.

Whether or not he agreed to such a pact prior to his election is not clear, but apparently he received some on-the-job instruction as to its tenets.

For instance, On June 11, 2013, Pope Francis reportedly said:

"The 'gay lobby' is spoken of, and it's true ... we need to see what we can do."

And yet, just over a month later, during an in-flight press conference, he said:

"So much is written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word 'gay.' They say there are some gay people here. I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good."

Apparently, the lesson had been learned; when it comes to the "gay" agenda, essentially nothing of note is to be done.

In any case, this brings me to the smoking gun in this nasty affair; that long since forgotten 300 page report detailing the Vatican's "gay mafia" as delivered to Pope Benedict in December of 2012.

At this, let's recap events while attempting to connect some of the dots such as we are able...

The Commission of Cardinals that generated the storied 300 page report was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in March of 2012.

Having witnessed the degree to which Pope Benedict was willing to act motu proprio in matters about which he feels strongly (lifting the excommunications from the SSPX bishops, Summorum Pontificum), there can be no doubt that the caporegime of the so-called "gay mafia" quickly identified an urgent need to formulate a response.

Two months later, in May of 2012, the IOR Board of Directors issued the "no-confidence" vote that led to the ouster of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi as its President; a move that not only halted his efforts to bring the Vatican Bank into compliance with international banking standards, but cleared the way for former Deutsche Bank executive Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz to take over in the interim.

On December 17th of that same year, the Commission of Cardinals handed the 300 page report detailing the Vatican gay lobby's influence to Pope Benedict XVI.

Just two weeks later, on January 1, 2013, Schmitz's former employer, Deutsche Bank, suspended ATM and bank card operations at the Vatican, effectively creating a situation described by Maurizio Blondet as rendering the pope "unable to buy or sell," a Biblical reference to those faithful ones who refuse the mark of the beast in the end times.

The shutting down of ATM and bank card services was serious enough, but surely Pope Benedict understood that if the Holy See was to find itself further isolated from the international banking community, the mission of the Catholic Church throughout the world would be crippled in an unprecedented way.

Having gotten the message loud and clear, on February 11, 2013, the Holy Father made the announcement that his adversaries – homosexualists Danneels, Kasper and Martini among them – dreamed about; he was abdicating the throne of Peter.

Within 24 hours the Vatican was back in business; its ability to conduct ATM and bank card transactions restored.

A mere three days later, a new President was named to the IOR Board of Directors, thus setting its reform in motion in earnest once more.

Pope Francis, for his part, in his first major act in the reform of the IOR on his watch named a notorious homosexual cleric, Monsignor Battista Ricca, as the prelate-liaison between the Vatican Bank Board of Directors and its Commission of Cardinals.

It was in answer to a question that clearly referred to Monsignor Ricca that Francis famously replied, "Who am I to judge?"

Since then, Pope Francis has shaken up the IOR's Commission of Cardinals (six in total), including among its appointees Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, and man with a homo-friendly track record of his own and who recently said of so-called "stable" gay relationships:

"It's an improvement. [The partners] share a life, they share their joys and sufferings, they help one another. It must be recognized that this person took an important step for his own good and the good of others, even though it certainly is not a situation the Church can consider 'regular' ... Instead of talking about everything that is missing, we can draw close to this reality, noting what is positive in this love that is establishing itself."

As for the 300 page dossier detailing the activities of a gay lobby in the Vatican, it was reportedly turned over directly from the hands of Benedict to his successor, Pope Francis, never to be mentioned again.

As Maurizio Blondet wrote, "the underlying reasons" for the events that led to the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI are not clear, but what does seem clear enough is that money, sex and modernism are somewhere in the mix.

© Louie Verrecchio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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