God’s Bankers: A book review by Bob Morris

God's BankersGod’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican
Gerald Posner
Simon & Schuster 2015)

A brilliant analysis of “the inexorable quest for power that is tied to the pursuit of money” in the Roman Catholic Church

According to Gerald Posner, he explains in this book “how for centuries the clerics in Rome, trusted with guarding the spiritual heritage of the Catholic faithful, have fought an internecine war over who controls the enormous profits and far-flung businesses of the world’s biggest religion.” This is a substantial volume, based on nine years of rigorous and extensive research: 513 pages of narrative plus 181 pages of “Selected Bibliography” and “Notes.” One of Posner’s major challenges was “to follow the money from the Borgias to Pope Francis, all the while prying into the institution that guards its secrets and keeps massive documentation sealed in self-described secret archives.”

o Benito Mussolini (Pages 44-45, 52-61, and 70-71)
o The Vatican and the Nazi Party (62-68, 76-77, and 90-91)
o Pope Pius XI (66-76)
o Bernadino Nogara (120-129, 155-161, and 179-180)
o Pope Pius XII (148-163)
o Holocaust and Pope John XXIII (164-165)
o Second Vatican Council Called by Pope John XXIII (166-167 and 191-192)
o Paul Casimir Macinkus (189-193, 197-207, 238-241, and 330-337)
o Michele Sindona (194-197, 200-2002, 241-245, and 296-300)
o Roberto Calvi (195-197 and 286-291)
o Roberto Calvi’s relationships with Vatican Bank (236-244, 365-372, 378-380, and 396-398)
o Pope John Paul I (258-274)
o Pope John Paul II (275-277 and 305-310)
o Vatican relations with Italy (345-349 and 352-358)
o Angelo Caloia (396-398 and 437-438)
o Pope Benedict XVI (417-425, 438-439, 450-465, and 491-495)
o Pope Francis (423-424. 498-499, and 500-501)

All human organizations are imperfect because all human being beings are imperfect and that is especially true of an organization as large as the Roman Catholic Church. I agree with Posner: “Only by examining [its] often contentious and uneasy history is it possible to expose the forces behind [Roberto] Calvi’s death. Ultimately, Calvi’s murder is a prequel to understanding the modern-day scandals from St. Peter’s and full appreciating the challenges faced by Pope Francis in trying to reform an institution in which money has so often been at the center of its most notorious scandals.”

While providing an abundance of information and insights, Gerald Posner “cuts through the masses of misinformation to present an unvarnished account of the quest for money and power in the Roman Catholic Church. No embellishment is needed. The real tale is shocking enough” and he has told it with precision, conviction, and eloquence. Bravo!

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