From time to time, news reports surface that the Vatican will run
some $50 million in the red for the current year. The object is
to press the "faithful" into increasing their "Peter's Pence,"
an annual collection from all Catholics around the world to
"support" the "Holy See," the pope's home base.
To those who know somewhat of the financial resources of the
world-wide Roman Catholic Institution, these figures are
microscopic and the charade ludicrous. When pressed, Vatican
officials admit that this deficit is only in the pope's
operating budget and has nothing to do with overall finances.
Avro Manhattan, in his book "The Vatican Billions," describes
in detail the 2,000-year ebb and flow of the Vatican's
financial fortunes. Beginning with Constantine, who took the
name "Christian" and merged it with pagan religion and
politics, Manhattan describes how "The early apostolic tradition
of poverty became an abstraction; at most, a text for sermons
or pious homilies. . . Thenceforward a new phase was initiated.
The Church Triumphant began to vest herself with the raiment
of the world. The state became her protector. With this came
not only power, but also wealth."
Chain Filings Forgive Sins
Manhattan details how the popes spent the next twelve hundred
years trading remission of sins for vast holdings of land,
money and gold. For example, Pope Gregory (590-604) "sent
the nobleman Dynamius a cross containing 'filings' from
St. Peter's chains, telling him to wear the cross at his
throat 'which is like as if he were wearing the chains of
St. Peter himself,' adding 'these chains, which have lain
across and around the neck of the most Blessed Apostle Peter,
shall unloose thee for ever from thy sins.' The gift, of
course, was not a free one. It cost money and gold."
This brazen merchandising of "indulgences" led to the
Reformation, a backlash which Manhattan says was not only
theological but also economic: The Reformation's success
"was due not so much to the ripeness of the times or the
corruption of the Church or the zeal of the movement's
leaders (many reformers, as zealous and as brave as Luther,
ended at the stake), but to the fact that behind them rallied
powerful lay elements desirous of getting hold of the immense
wealth of the Church."
From this defeat, the popes turned their attention to the
newly discovered Western Hemisphere. Here they claimed
ownership and demanded sovereignty over the American
continents and surrounding islands by virtue of a forged
document called the "Donations of Constantine." They even
drew up a document granting part of the New World to Spain
and the rest to Portugal to explore and occupy.
Pope's "Evangelization" Monopoly
Manhattan points out: "The concession to the two Iberian
nations was soon transformed into what it was really meant to
be: namely, a monopoly for the exclusive evangelization of the
continent via the two Catholic nations.
The papal move was a spectacular success, for within a century
the papal emblems had been planted from the most northerly tip
of California down to the most southerly corner of
South America. . ."
But in the new world, the pattern was the same. By convincing
the rich that forgiveness of their sins depended upon material
contributions to the "Church," the pope soon came to own a
major part of the wealth of the emerging western nations.
This brought the inevitable "anti-clerical" reaction.
Manhattan gives Mexico as an example: "The explosions
eventually came -- none so potent as that which occurred in
Mexico during the first decade of the twentieth century.
Most anti-clerical South American administrations came to
power as a result of the popular reaction against the
Church's stranglehold on the life and wealth of the nation.
"The Church was thoroughly disestablished; her suffocating
monopoly of education and politics was broken. Above all,
her immense wealth was confiscated and distributed among the
Church Engineered War
The Church reacted by engineering "a most destructive civil
war which tore Mexico apart for several years, marking a
whole decade (1920-30) with risings, mutinies, assassinations
and massacres. Catholic Bishops, priests, monks and even nuns
took active part -- witness the assassination of
President Alvaro Obregon (July 17, 1928) by a Catholic sent
by the Mother Superior of a Mexican Convent."
The most intriguing section of "The Vatican Billions," deals with
the Vatican's switch from accumulation of wealth in land and
estates to the amassing of vast fortunes in corporate stocks
and bonds. Using monies accumulated over the centuries,
Rome invested heavily in devalued companies during the great
depression of the 1930s and reaped vast profits as these
companies expanded rapidly to meet the World War II defense
Since true ownership of such securities is not easily tracked,
only rough estimates can be made of the Vatican's holdings.
$250 Million Payoff
Yet hints do creep out such as the $250 million paid by the
Vatican Bank to the creditors of the bankrupt Italian Ambrosiano Bank
when authorities determined that the Vatican carried a major
part of the responsibility for the $l.4 billion in bad loans
which led to the bankruptcy.
Today Vatican wealth resides in three major categories: vast
corporate securities, world-wide real estate in the form of
parish churches, monastaries, cathedrals, and basilicas, and
an immense, intangible hoard of art.
Manhattan points out that "The Catholic Church is the oldest,
largest and most impressive art collector of all times."
He estimates that Europe contains at least a thousand
churches, each with at least one painting worth a million
dollars on the open market. This alone equals one billion dollars.
Add to this the Sistine Chapel and Vatican galleries. And to
that the priceless manuscripts in the Vatican archives.
Manhattan estimates that "the Catholic Church could, by the
close of the present century, own, control and have a say,
directly or indirectly, in at least one-third of all the
sources of wealth of the western world."
Can this "city" be any other than that described in Rev. 18?
Soul winners, let's use this information about the
"The Vatican Billions," to challenge the precious people caught in
her deception to "come out" and "be not partakers of her
sins and that ye receive not of her plagues.