While the circumstances surrounding the property’s purchase are the focus of the ongoing trial in the Vatican courts, with accusations of fraud and embezzlement against 10 people, the question of how Peter’s Pence has been used requires a look behind the scenes.
The Vatican’s finances have come under scrutiny in recent years, and Pope Francis has ordered the removal of responsibility for financial funds and real estate assets from the Secretariat of State.
The Vatican’s economy prefect, Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, SJ, acknowledged “that people have the right to know how we spend the money that is given to us”.
But in 2014, before this papal decision and a wider push for transparency, the Secretariat of State was looking to invest in an oil project in Angola, and then dropped that plan, instead looking at investing in London real estate. The current Vatican trial covers, amongst other concerns, the question of borrowed money and loans surrounding this deal.
In the hearing on June 20 last week, Fabrizio Tirabassi, a former Vatican official, explained in his interrogation that when he started working at the Secretariat of State, there was an Obolo Fund.
Obolo di San Pietro is Italian for Peter’s Pence.
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