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Bailing Out The Vatican Bank... The Ice Cream Headache*Bill Annett Salem-News.com
I'd rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it. -Will Rogers
(DAYTONA BEACH) - St. Peter's Square, Rome. - Pope Francis I, responding to recent reports that JPMorgan Chase and HSBC had ceased doing business with the Vatican Bank, called an unprecedented press conference today in his humble Motel 6 quarters close to St. Peter's Square. The following is a transcript of that press interview:
Luigi Gambini, Il Popola Italia: Your Holiness, you recently announced that you intended to reform the Vatican Bank. What precisely did you mean by that?
Pope: Luigi, I prefer to be addressed as "Your Humbleness." I believe I'm the first Pope in 1700 years that can make that statement. In fact, you can even call me Jorge.
That's pronounced "Whore-hey," right?
Pope: Yes, with emphasis on the first syllable. I've said that I'm too humble to judge, but the Vatican Bank should be even humbler, serving the poor in all things. It is our intention to fund it, a bail-out, in effect, in order for it to achieve it's mandate to make more loans to the poor, such as the peasants of Sicily.
Vikki Pelligrini, Famiglia Cristiani: Your - well, Humbleness - recently it was reported that a Vatican cleric, a Secret Service agent and a financial broker were arrested by the Italian police in the act of smuggling $24 million over the border into Switzerland for a businessman based in Naples. Can you comment on that?
Pope: Yes, Vikki. As you know, the Italian police have a long history of being pushy. I looked into that incident and decided it's not for me to judge. But the Institute of Religious Works (the actual name for the Vatican Bank) is sometimes overzealous in its attempts to do good works. This consignment had to do with aid to certain disadvantaged Swiss children, not - as alleged - an attempt to launder money. It was kept secret in order to conceal the true identity of the Naples philanthropist, who like me is humble and wishes to remain anonymous, unlike money idolatrous Americans such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Luigi: But isn't it true that Naples is the recognized center for organized crime in our country?
Pope: In the new liberalized Church that I'm working to establish, all business will be organized in a new way. Render unto business that which is business's and unto the Church - well, you know, like whatever is left over, For the good of the poor. By the way, all of you, remind me to wash your feet before you leave.
Paolo Beretta, Europa: The Monsignor arrested was also identified as the head of accounting at the Treasury of the Vatican, also known as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See. Is he your appointee, Your - that is, Humbleness?
Pope: I'm glad you asked that Paolo. By the way, are you the same Paolo who used to be the former Pope's butler?
Paolo: As a matter of fact, I am. After I was released from the catacombs, I got a job with the Europa. They thought I'd have some valuable Vatican connections.
Pope: Yes, well, things are different now. There will be no more idolatry of money while I'm the Humble Pope. And to get back to your question, the Monsignor in question was my personal emissary to insure that the starving children of southern Switzerland would receive the charity they needed.
Paolo: Could you just summarize your apostolic teaching on the idolatry of money?
Pope: Yes, of course. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit as to the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. That's why I checked into Motel 6 instead of living in the Papal residence. I can even do my own laundry here.
Jeff Thompson, Time Magazine: Your Humble Person of the Year, (if you don't mind a little plug for Time Magazine, there) recently Monsignor William Lynn, who was tried and found guilty by a Philadelphia Court for violating the safeguarding of children law by shielding raping priests, had his sentence overturned by a Pennsylvania Superior court. Your comment?
Pope: Thanks, Jeff. Yes, well I applaud that superior Court because we all must obey the law and the Safeguarding of Children thing at the time Bill Lynn was active, didn't include priests and bishops, just parents and school teachers.. It's an important distinction, similar to the distinctions the Junta made when I was a humble bishop in Argentina. There were some bad priests in Argentina at the time, and the Junta was diligent enough to have them shot. People said I should have defended them, but I couldn't be everywhere at once. You know how many poor people I had to visit?
Vikki: So, getting back to the Vatican Bank, could you summarize how you will reform the Bank?
Pope: First, I intend to issue papal decrees to speed up inspections and make changes to produce real reform in the legal and institutional framework of the banking system.
Vikki: Sounds good. But an 11-month Financial Times investigation reveals mismanagement at the Vatican Bank, which apparently handles approximately $7 billion in assets. And since then, several American banks have ceased doing business with the Vatican Bank.
Pope: Well, as our Heavenly Father pointed out, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Who cares about those capitalistic old American banks, anyway? We arranged for Peter Sutherland, a distinguished Irish banker - actually a chair at Goldman Sachs International and former Attorney General of Ireland - and a good practising Catholic, I might add - to advise our Council of Cardinals on how to take corrective measures, such as being more transparent, as the Church is in Ireland.
Luigi: What does that mean, Your Humbleness?
Pope: Well, for example when there were childish demonstrations at our Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, the Arch Bishop conceded that he would introduce glass confessionals, just to prove that everything was above board with their priests.
Jeff: But recently, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC have all been severely criticized because they were dealing with the Vatican Bank, which has demonstrated a total lack of regulatory standards.
Pope: I heard about that. And believe me since my predecessor resigned we have done no business whatever with Deutsche Bank. Nil. Nada. Oh, I think Ratzinger traded a few German War Bonds from his private portfolio. By the way, I've persuaded him to take a 30% pay cut in his Peter's Pence compensation, (formerly 200 million Lira - or was it $200 million U.S.?) and I don't take any at all. I live entirely on my Argentinian pension, which is quite adequate, thanks to the Junta. Covers my expenses here at Motel Six, because I'm tax exempt, of course. Amenities such as the Coke machine, of course, are extra.
Luigi: I wanted to ask you, Your Humbleness, about the case of the Vatican Bank's relationship with the Italian Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed. Apparently, the Vatican Bank was the largest shareholder in Banco Ambrosiano. After the Banco's failure, it’s Chairman, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under London’s Blackfriar’s Bridge. No charges were brought but it was rumored that he was whacked by the Sicilian Mafia. Could you shed any light on that, and my second question was: is it true that the Vatican Bank is a large shareholder in Bank of America?
Pope: Two excellent questions. Roberto was a brilliant entrepreneur who had already distinguished himself by executing a sale and lease-back agreement concerning the Brooklyn Bridge with a group headed by Credit Suisse and Lazard Freres. It was his intention to do the same with the bridge in London, with a view to benefiting the poor people of Eastcheap. In the course of his physical due diligence and inspection of the bridge, he slipped and was suspended by his rosary which, being a good practicing Catholic, he always wore. A sad case. The second question I can answer even more briefly. The Vatican Bank does not do business with Bank of America, simply because it doesn't meet our standards of "know your client" (KYC), and transparency.
Vikki: Finally, Whore-hey, in this entire press conference, you haven't mentioned anything about the Church's approach, under your new liberalization, to the perennial problem of child abuse by priests. How do you intend to alleviate that problem?
Pope: My predecessor actually addressed that problem with his ruling that all such cases should be handled internally. In endorsing that, I can only add that what happens in the Church should stay in the Church, without handing it over to incompetent civilian authorities, and I've appointed a Commission to insure that such a policy is carried out. After all, the Church has centuries of experience in pediatrics and paedophilia. Who can handle those issues better?
Jeff: Thank you, Whore-hey. Time Magazine was right about its Most Controversial Person of The Year. I hope we can interview you again.
Pope: Any time. You know where to find me, right here at Motel 6 on St. Peter's Square. I'll leave the light on for you. __________________
* An ice-cream headache is a brief cranial pain associated with the consumption of too much of something cold too quickly, touching the roof of the month, resulting from a nerve response causing rapid constriction and swelling of blood vessels.
What does that have to do with Pope Francis or the Vatican Bank?
Absolutely nothing. But it is a catchy title, isn't it?
Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.
At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.
He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.
Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.
You can write to Bill Annett at this address: email@example.com
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