Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Q&A  July AD 2012
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Q&A Archives
Apropos-The gates of hell shall not prevail because....
Q&A-Money laundering?  Vatican Bank money laundering?
Medjugorje? Discernment of Spirits?
Review:  Judge Napolitano-It is Dangerous to be Right....


Our Lady of the Rosary
Words from the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Saints

     The Church’s “Divine Founder permits ... a regrettable inclination to evil ... even at times in the most exalted members of His Mystical Body.   But our Divine Savior governs and guides the Society which He founded directly and personally ... or by singling out from the body of the Church ... men and women of conspicuous holiness, who may point the way for the rest of Christendom to the perfecting of His Mystical Body.”

~ Pope Pius XII,
Mystici Corporis, 40, 66. 39.

    Perhaps Pope Pius is calling you to be one of those “men and women of conspicuous holiness”!

Our Lady of the Rosary
Money Laundering

    Question:  A Glenn Beck video says that Obama put the Vatican on a list countries “of concern” as possible money launderers as punishment for the Church’s opposition to Obamacare.  What is money laundering?  Why would the Vatican be of concern to U.S. Authorities.

    Answer:  The State Department summary report, “2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Major Money Laundering Countries” does include the Holy See in its table “Countries/Jurisdictions of Concern” and says that this is the first time that the Holy See has made the list.[1]  It should be noted that the United States are also on the list, under the more significant heading “Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern.”  Being on the list, in any of its three categories does not imply that the Jurisdictions in question are thought to be engaged in any sort of criminal activity.  Weak laws and banking procedures that respect customer privacy or don’t ask questions are what get many countries listed, while the sheer size of the economy is responsible for other listings, including the United States and United Kingdom.  There is even evidence that the Obama Justice Department has engaged in laundering Mexican drug money, perhaps in connection with its arms smuggling efforts.[2]

    “How Money Laundering Works” by Julia Layton is available on the Internet.[3]  Briefly, money laundering involves taking profits from illegal operations (particularly drug trafficking) and making them look as though they originated in some legitimate source.  This is generally facilitated by depositing the profits in a bank that keeps its transactions highly private, and then moving that money through several, similarly private, banks, offshore and around the world.  Since illegal profits are often received in cash, countries that don’t require their banks to report large cash deposits are favored at the beginning of the money laundering stream.  The use of “bearer instruments” (where money is paid to the “bearer on demand” and there is no mention of the instrument’s owner) are favored later on in the stream.  The State Department report identifies the procedures which make money laundering easier, and can be read for a fuller understanding.  The comprehensive report identifies the performance of each money laundering country in dealing with each of these procedures.[4]

    The Glenn Beck video in question is called “Catholics under attack” which appeared on GBTV on 13 March 2012.[5]  Beck is a former Catholic who is unable to distinguish between cultural conservatism and orthodoxy.  He fails to note the high degree to which the Holy See supports Obama programs like socialized medicine, “green” environmentalism, globalized finance, and world government.  He seems not to have considered the possibility that the “contraceptive mandate” may have been a “bone” thrown to the normally wimpish  American bishops so that they could appear to the faithful as defenders of the Catholic Faith[6]—the US government provides ample access to contraception for those who want it, bishops or no bishops.

    But, is the Vatican Bank actually laundering money?  The Italian government (if not Obama) seemed to think so, and seized €23 million (about $29 million) from the Vatican Bank’s account at a Rome bank, and placed the Vatican Bank’s Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and Director Paolo Cipriani under investigation.  Agence France-Presse reports:

    .... Meanwhile the Corriere della Sera daily said Italian prosecutors were probing a series of documents seized during raids on Gotti Tedeschi's home and office this week as part of an investigation into money-laundering at the bank.

    The report said investigators were focusing on accounts at the Vatican bank held by "politicians, shady intermediaries, contractors and senior (Italian) officials" as well as "people believed to be fronts for mafia bosses."

    Investigators have reportedly found "property investments and Church property sales that could disguise money transfers to fronts and the need to 'launder' through firms and banks not subject to direct controls like the IOR." [ IOR=Istituto per le Opere di Religione=Institute for Works of Religion, a.k.a. the Vatican Bank ]

    The Vatican on Friday defended itself against the growing scandal around the IOR, saying Gotti Tedeschi's departure was due to "objective reasons" and stating its commitment to "transparency" at the bank.  In its statement, the Vatican also emphasized that Italian prosecutors should respect the Holy See's "sovereign prerogatives" under international law.

    Gotti Tedeschi and his former deputy, Paolo Cipriani, are already under investigation in Italy for allegedly laundering 23 million euros ($29 million).

    Vatican watchers say Gotti Tedeschi was ousted due to a long-running dispute with Secretary of State Bertone and a reaction against his efforts to bring the Vatican bank in line with international regulations against money-laundering.[7]

    The IOR has a somewhat tarnished reputation, going back to Pope Paul IV’s appointment of Mafia financer Michele Sindona as his financial advisor.  Sindona brought in huge sums of money, said to belong to the Gambino crime family, laundering it together with fellow Freemason, Robert Calvi, Chairman of the Banco Ambrosiano of Milan, in which the Vatican was heavily invested.  After Banco Ambrosiano’s collapse, Calvi was arrested for violation of Italian currency export laws, and was later “suicided”—found hanging under London’s Blackfriar’s bridge, an apparent connection to the underground P2 Masonic Lodge.  In 1984, the Vatican Bank agreed to pay $224 million to one hundred twenty creditors of the failed Banco Ambrosiano as a “recognition of moral involvement” in the bank's collapse.  Sindona, associated with the collapse of Long Island’s Franklin National Bank (costing the Holy See an estimated $30 million), was poisoned while in prison for murder.  Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, head of the Vatican Bank from 1971 to 1989 was indicted in connection with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, but at the Vatican’s request, was granted diplomatic immunity.  Retiring after a stint as Governor of Vatican City, Marcinkus died, from undetermined causes, in his home in Sun City, Arizona in 2006.  His obituary is quite colorful.[8]

    Late in 2011, Pope Benedict committed to enforce the European Union’s anti-money laundering laws in Vatican financial institutions.[9]

    Should anyone think that the modern Church is opposed to socialism or socialized medicine, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, the Holy See’s delegate to the United Nations’ sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, “reaffirmed the Holy See's support for Resolution WHA64.9 on ‘Sustainable health financing structures and universal coverage,’ which urges member States to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity.”[10]

    Socialism is, of course, a species of theft, with those in power taking from the producers and redistributing to the unproductive.  Whenever you see the adjective “Sustainable,” you may also expect sins against human life as well.  To be “sustainable,” a socialist society must ration care, and limit the number of people requiring care.  Whether or not Catholic institutions pay for them, a “sustainable” healthcare system will involve contraception and abortion.  As a large healthcare provider Itself,[11] the Church will benefit by having the state take from the rich to give to the Church.  It seems hypocritical at best to complain that the government is violating the Catholic conscience while being on the receiving end of the government’s shakedown.[12]

Our Lady of the Rosary
Medjugorje? Discernment of Spirits?

    Question:  A few weeks back, after the Friday evening holy hour, we had a discussion about apparitions said to be taking place at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Does the Church have an official position on the genuineness of these apparitions?  How does the Church judge such things?

    Answer:  The Bishop of Mostar, the diocese in which the parish of Medjugorje is located has a rather comprehensive report, “Međugorje: Secrets, messages, vocations, prayers, confessions, commissions,” on his website.[13]  The report gives an overview of the people involved and what they claim to have happened.  Bishop Ratko Perić is generally negative, although the last paragraph suggests that the investigation is ongoing.  Many Medjugorje devotees remain enthusiastic, nonetheless.  “Apparition people” tend to judge reality by comparing it with the apparition, rather than the other way around.

    On our parish website we have an excerpt from Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology (Tournai: Desclee), that discusses the evaluation of private revelations.[14]  We also have a review of Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., A Still, Small, Voice: A Practical Guide On Reported Revelations,
(San Francisco: Ignatius, 1993).[15]

    Briefly, the Church considers all revelations after the death of the last Apostle to be private in nature.  While not necessary for the Church as a whole, the private revelation may be of great utility to the recipient and those to whom it is communicated.  It is the responsibility of the bishop of the diocese in which the revelation is said to have taken place to investigate and permit or prohibit belief in the revelation and to allow or prohibit its public celebration.  Prior to Vatican II it was not allowed to publish books on a claimed revelation until the bishop pronounced favorably upon it.[16]

    In making his evaluation, the bishop (through delegated priests) will attempt to discern whether the phenomenon comes from God, the devil, or some natural source.  He will carefully consider all of the allegedly revealed information to see if in any way it contradicts the teaching of the Church—clearly a revelation about a Fourth Person of the Trinity, or a revelation that Mary was not assumed into heaven would have to be bogus.  He will consider the mental state of the visionaries, and the degree to which they might profit from his approval.  People with a reputation for lying or flights of fancy, as well as those standing to turn a good profit will be judged not to have received a revelation from God.  Often there will be no more than the subjective testimony of the visionary, and the bishop may have no hard evidence that the revelation took place at all, and even less evidence of its source.  Ultimately, if the testimony seems genuine, there is no contradiction of the Faith, and the contents of the revelation seem to foster a more positive spirituality, the bishop may declare it “worthy of belief” and allow local veneration.  “Worthy of belief” does not mean “obligatory of belief,” so Catholics are not obliged to give their assent or veneration.  Some claimed apparitions are never declared worthy, and substantial time may pass before a decision is made.  The apparitions at Fatima in 1917 were not declared “worthy of belief” until 1929, even though tens of thousands of people witnessed the miracle of the Sun which accompanied the last apparition on 13 October.

    The Vatican issued a standard set of guidelines—“Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations,” which, this May 29th, became available in English.[17]  Of course there remains the problem of Modernist bishops and theologians attempting such discernment—lacking a belief in objective truth, no supposed mystical message can ever be said to contradict Catholic doctrine.  Perhaps we can expect a Fourth Person of the Trinity sometime soon.  “Quaternity”?  No doubt, they will “dialogue” about it.

    Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us!

Our Lady of the Rosary
Napolitano-It is Dangerous to be Right....

Napolitano, Andrew P., It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
xxxiv+283 pages, hardbound. $14.73 from
Highly recommended.

    Living in the early twenty-first it is common to hear politicians and theologians going on about the “rights” of people to things like education, healthcare, food, a place to live, a retirement plan, and even things like the arts, sports, and entertainment.  Rarely does one hear how these things came to be rights, except perhaps, through some presumed doctrine of “fairness,” where everyone is supposed to have equally the same goods in life.  Even more rarely is the source of these goods discussed—where do they come from if everyone has a right to receive them, but no one has the corresponding responsibility to produce them.  Somehow they are expected to come into existence by virtue of a government mandate.

    Judge Napolitano reduces this concept of fairness mediated by government as the source of our rights to absurdity, and pronounces the philosophy of rights being given to each man by God and known through the natural moral law.  This concept is not new with Napolitano, but is the common possession of Western philosophy, Christian, Jewish, and even atheistic.  In America it is expressed by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    God created man with a physical body informed by a spiritual soul having the faculties of intellect and will.  The intellect and will enable man to determine what he needs and wants, both in his spiritual and his physical capacities, and how to satisfy those needs and wants.  His primary resource is his own self, mind and body, which belongs to no one else below God.  He is free to use the unclaimed resources of the earth, and makes them his own by making creative use of them.  Jefferson is said to have listed “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” rather than “Life, Liberty and Property” due to the mistaken notion of his time that one man could be another man’s property.

    Napolitano is not an anarchist.  Positive law has its place as long as it is restricted to protecting the natural rights of people.  A man should have the protection of law so that no one comes and steals the crops he has grown or the home he has built, but law exceeds its bounds when it coerces men in such a way as to deprive them of their lives, freedoms, or goods for the benefit of someone else or of the state.  Only to deter future crime, to rehabilitate the criminal, or to keep him from committing new crimes, may these basic rights be infringed by law.

    Law, according to the Judge, should protect one from harm, but not from insult or offense.  He gives the example (pg. 203) of a woman on a bus “making a picnic lunch of live cockroaches, soft dog food, and rotten eggs—all sautéed in garlic and onions” as a behavior that is offensive to most people, but which should not be prohibited by law as it harms none of them.

    In my estimation he carries this concept too far a few paragraphs later (pg. 204) in trying to protect the offensive behavior of two teenagers who get on the bus and stage simulated acts of violence, one “pulling the pin on a (very realistic) hand grenade, while the second teenager stabs his friend with a fake, rubber knife.”  In this case, the passengers cannot just look away from the behavior, for they may reasonably think that they are in physical danger, and someone may get hurt by reacting to this reasonable fear.

    Likewise, when Napolitano writes about “victimless crimes,” he fails to recognize that such crimes may actually have victims—if not in the perpetrators themselves, perhaps in the family members who love and depend upon them.

    In any event, It is Dangerous to be Right makes an important contribution to the discourse in our age of bloated and intrusive government.



[12]   Kurt Williamson, “Convenience, Contraception, and Hypocrisy

[14]   http://www.

[16]   Canon 1399 5 

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