April 20. 2016


Not content to create a strategy for priestly pedophile cover-ups during two papacies, the former Vatican Secretary of State also steals from a children’s hospital

Recently news of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s chutzpah emerged again in Barbie Latza Nadeau’s article “Vatican Bling-Bling: Hospital Funds Diverted to Cardinal’s Villa“ when we learned that, in jaw-dropping contrast to his boss Pope Francis (who lives in a 750-square-foot apartment in a guesthouse at the Vatican), the Cardinal created a penthouse for himself by refurbishing two Vatican-owned rooftop apartments. One of the apartments belonged to a children’s hospital. He shares the elegant space with three nuns who wait on him day and night. According to the Italian newspaper Il Tempo the renovation was worth one million euros (but he got a 50% reduction). Actually, it seems the renovations were paid for twice, thus no discount occurred at all. The Vatican Tribunal opened a criminal dossier on the matter last week.

Where did the money come from to furnish so lavish a penthouse for the “prince of the church” who takes his title so literally? From a fund intended for the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital.

What did the prince of the church get for his money? Each bedroom has its own private bathroom, the kitchen facilities are fit for a banquet hall, and there are eight independent sound systems, including one for a rooftop chapel. Expensive herringbone oak parquet floors and luxury white Carrara marble and double-glaze energy efficient windows, silent heat pumps and climate control grace the edifice as well.

Needless to say, Cardinal Bertone’s lifestyle conflicts with the poor church that Pope Francis is preaching and hoping for. But that does not dismay the cardinal, who says in his defense, “scores of other prelates live in even nicer apartments” and calls the place “dutifully restored (at my expense).” When embarrassed that the news got out, he offered a $170,000 donation to the children’s hospital in December, claiming that his donation “reflects my sentimental attachment to the hospital and its little patients.” The hospital president, Mariella Enoc, saw it differently however, saying that “acknowledging that what has happened has been detrimental to the Bambino Gesu, Cardinal Bertone wanted to meet us half way, donating a sum of 150,000 euros.”i In other words, he got caught with his hands in the cookie jar and suddenly became a philanthropist out of his love of children (“little patients”).

One can wonder: Where did he come up with 150,000 euros so readily? And for the gross sums to remake his palatial apartment?

Why is this story bigger than a story about another greedy establishment figure? The reason is this: Cardinal Bertone was not just another Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Under Pope John Paul II he was plucked out of obscurity as a priest canon lawyer by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Sacred Inquisition). His assignment? To deflect investigations of pedophile clergy, including and especially the nefarious Father Maciel of Mexico who started a series of seminaries and abused over 20 seminarians. News of this abuse was beginning to leak out and Ratzinger wanted a lid put on the leaks. Maciel also had time to launch his own very well-funded order, The Legion of Christ, which was committed to obedience-based religious ideologies (including a vow never to speak badly about the founder, a unique vow indeed).

Maciel raised untold sums for the Catholic Church and, on the side, was secretly married to two wives and fathered four children, three of whom he sexually abused. Maciel was a favorite of Pope John Paul II, who took him on his airplane when he traveled and personally ordained 50-some of his priests at a gala affair in St Peter’s Square attended by many fawning aristocrats who admired both men.