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Vatican City, Nov 21, 2014 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The recent return to the “Vatican bank” of some $28.8 million, seized because of alleged money laundering, closes a story that opened almost five years ago and accompanied the reform of Vatican finances.

In 2010, the Public Prosecutor of Rome made a preventive seizure of 23 million Euros transferred by the Institute for Religious Works (IOR, or “Vatican bank”) from an account it held in the Italian bank Credito Artigiano, now Credito Valtellinese.

According to the prosecutor, the IOR had not given the Italian bank the needed information to carry out the obligation of “enhanced due diligence,” that is, the identification of the account holder and of the origin of funds.

The seizure came in the midst of the Vatican's drafting of an anti-money laundering law, which it committed to drawing up after signing a Monetary Agreement with Europe in 2009.

The seizure worked as a source of pressur on Vatican officials, who drafted a law which largely agreed with Italian anti-money laundering law.

After the Vatican's anti-money laundering law came into effect in 2011, Rome’s public prosecutor ruled that the preventive seizure could be revoked, but at the same time “funds remained bound because of unsolved issues connected with due diligence,” as a Nov. 18 statement from the IOR said.

So the funds  remained ‘frozen’ in Italy for almost four years, and have been repatriated to the Vatican only recently.

In the course of these almost five years, there can be identified two different seasons in the Vatican's path toward financial transparency.

The first season is that of emergency: the Vatican needed to solve concrete problems, such as the seizure of funds in Italy, and so it oriented towards a bilateral policy with its Italian neighbor, as the choice of Italians for the key posts in the IOR and of then newly-founded Financial Information Authority shows.

This season is also characterized by a concentration of powers with a strong mandate to single persons at the IOR’s top offices.

This ‘modus operandi’ did not, however, lead to positive outcomes.

The Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee came to the Vatican for an on-site visit in November 2012, and asked the Holy See to issue strong modifications to the law, so that it would better adhere to international standards.

The Holy See was conscious that a change of pace was needed, and this how it entered in the second season.

The anti-money laundering law was first modified in 2012, and substantially re-written in 2013, while the Institute for Religious Works and the Authority for Financial Information Italian staff has been replaced with a new staff, chosen with international criteria.

The second season of the IOR has been characterized by a long-term commitment, inserted in a juridical framework that led to the issuance of a sort of comprehensive Vatican text regarding finances, Law XVIII, issued last year.

This is the reason why the IOR release may note that “the repatriation of funds was carried out because the Holy See has introduced a solid system of prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism, and of oversight.” A system that Moneyval acknowledged in December 2013.

Despite the return of funds, the prosecution against the IOR's management remains open, and with this the question: why is the trial still open, if it was proven that the IOR did not launder money?

Vatican City, Nov 20, 2014 / 01:29 pm (CNA).- A Vatican source has confirmed to CNA that Pope Francis called a 24-year-old man in Spain who alleges he was the victim of sexual abuse a decade ago in the city of Granada.

According to the Vatican official, the Holy Father called the man to voice his solidarity with him and “encouraged him to file charges against the guilty because (Francis) really wants to end the scandal of pedophilia.”

The alleged sexual abuse took place approximately a decade ago, when the alleged victim was an adolescent. The now 24-year-old man recently filed a lawsuit against the priests.

Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Granada released a statement emphasizing that the allegations had been dealt with immediately.

“From the moment credible reports of the accusations were filed before the Holy See by a young man from Granada alleging sexual abuse by a group of priests of the diocese, this archdiocese has scrupulously followed the procedures established by canonical discipline for these cases, which is available to all on the home page of the Holy See’s own website,” the archdiocese said.

“Once it was learned the lawsuit had been filed, the archbishop made himself available to civil authorities to collaborate in whatever way necessary, which he has done up to now,” it continued.

The case has led Archbishop Javier Martinez of Granada to issue a statement announcing that three priests related to the charges have been suspended from ministry.

In response to reports in the media that he did not act soon enough in the case, the archbishop told reporters in Madrid last month that the alleged victim asked him for a pause in ecclesial action against the priests in order to allow civil authorities to proceed with their case. He said civil authorities made the same request.

According to Europa Press, Archbishop Martinez Fernandez explained that he learned of the charges of abuse in mid-August, not from the Holy See but from a letter the young man sent to the archdiocese in which he said he had written to Pope Francis.

The archbishop said he then called the young man and spoke with him on the phone for two hours.

He told reporters that when the Holy See sent him a letter informing him that it had received the young man’s accusations, he had already met with the alleged victim and had purchased him a ticket to fly to Rome. Archbishop Martinez Fernandez said Pope Francis did not speak directly with him.

Commenting on the fact that the victim contacted the Vatican directly and did not speak first with the Archdiocese of Granada, Archbishop Martinez Fernandez said that his biggest concern is not for himself, but for the damage that may have been done to the young man.

If the accusations are true, the archbishop said, “it causes me great sorrow, because there is no greater hurt than for someone who has chosen the mission of caring for others to abuse their trust, again, if this was the case. That is something that both canonical and civil authorities will have to determine.”


Vatican City, Nov 20, 2014 / 11:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The divorced and remarried can receive absolution like any other member of the faithful, the Vatican's doctrinal office has affirmed: when they repent, in their case taking a firm resolution to abstain from sex with their new partner.

“We cannot exclude a priori the remarried divorced faithful from a penitential process that would lead to a sacramental reconciliation with God and, therefore, also to Eucharistic Communion,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote Oct. 22 in response to the question of a priest.

“In any event, absolution cannot be granted if not under the condition of being assured of true contrition, that is, 'a sorrow of mind, and a detestation for sin committed, with the purpose of not sinning for the future' (Council of Trent, Doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance, c. 4). In this line, a remarried divorcee cannot be validly absolved if he does not take the firm resolution of not 'sinning for the future' and therefore of abstaining from the acts proper to spouses, by doing in this sense all that is within his power.”

The congregation's letter was signed by its secretary, Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, and its French text was translated into English by Rorate Caeli. It responded to a French priest who asked if a confessor can “grant absolution to a penitent who, having been religiously married, has contracted a second union following divorce.”

The penitential process open to the divorced and remarried must take into consideration three elements, Archbishop Ladaria affirmed.

First, it is to involve “verify(ing) the validity of the religious marriage in the respect of truth, all the while avoiding giving the impression of a kind of 'Catholic divorce'.”

Then, it should be seen if eventually “the persons, with the aid of grace, can separate from their new partners and reconcile with those from whom they had separated.”

Finally, if the divorced and remarried “for serious reasons (for instance, children), cannot separate from their partner,” then they should be “invite(d) … to live as 'brother and sister'.”

The letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was signed three days following the close of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, which met in Rome to discuss challenges to the family in the context of evangelization. Cardinal Walter Kasper has used the synod to advocate for the admission, in certain circumstances, of some divorced and remarried persons to Confession and Communion.

The CDF's letter quoted from Familiaris consortio, the concluding document of another Synod on the Family, which was held in 1980.

“Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage,” reads the quote from St. John Paul II's 1981 apostolic exhortation.

“This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they 'take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.'”

The congregation also referred to the concluding document of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, Sacramentum caritatis, which noted that “where the nullity of the marriage bond is not declared and objective circumstances make it impossible to cease cohabitation, the Church encourages these members of the faithful to commit themselves to living their relationship in fidelity to the demands of God's law, as friends, as brother and sister; in this way they will be able to return to the table of the Eucharist, taking care to observe the Church's established and approved practice in this regard.”

The CDF's letter was released Nov. 12 in an article at the French site L'homme nouveau, the author of which, Fr. Claude Barthe, notes that even if the letter “gives the impression of being 'rigid', in reality it opts for the greatest kindness possible towards the sinner … one may say that Congregation places itself, according to the tradition of the Holy See, in the framework of the Roman school of theology, that of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who combated the French rigorists.”

“The conclusion of the Responsum is particularly interesting,” Fr. Barthe stated. “In effect it regulates the particular case of the absolution given to a divorcee who has contracted a new union‎ with respect to the general principle concerning the integrity of the sacrament of Penance, and by way of the consequence of the legitimacy of the absolution that the minister of the sacrament grants.”

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