The Catholic Church has denied a report that the Vatican built up a secret real-estate portfolio, using funds from the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in return for “recognizing his fascist regime.” The Telegraph had the report on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.
The Catholic Church did not refute that they used Mussolini’s money to buy real estate, but they refuted circumstances that surrounded the payment, the equivalent of $92 million dollars.
Sources within the Holy See however said that was misleading and historically incorrect.
The money was paid out under the Lateran Accords of 1929, the agreement by which the Mussolini government recognised the Vatican City State as a sovereign nation and the Church gave up its claim to the former papal states.
The Guardian had the original investigative report about the Vatican’s impressive real estate holdings on Monday, Jan. 20, 2013. The article, written by David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou, included investigation of a complicated financial trail that is difficult for the average reader to follow. The holdings included an office building at 30 St James's Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street (Bulgari Jewelers) and in the city of Coventry. The Guardian reports that the Vatican also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.
The Catholic Church did not refute the long list of holdings, and even acknowledged that the unit that manages the British properties, APSA, is listed in the Vatican phone book, according to The Telegraph. The church seemed puzzled that anyone found this information to be new or scandalous. Father Federico Lombardi, official spokesman of the Vatican, said the information had been public for more than 80 years.
"The existence of property investments by the Holy See, bought with money paid by the Italian State as compensation for expropriated assets, has been known for more than 80 years."I'm amazed by the publication of this story – it doesn't reveal anything new."
The obvious part of this story is that the issues in the Lateran Accords had been unresolved from the 1860s until 1929. The Pope was basically a prisoner in the Vatican. When Benito Mussolini needed the support of the Pope to build his empire, suddenly, The Roman Question, as it was called was solved.
So, in exchange for this enormous sum of money, the Pope made peace with Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator who conspired with Adolph Hitler. Here is an educational article about the Lateran Accords. The money was invested quite well, and still benefits the Pope today, but it was Mussolini's money. And, the money did garner Mussolini the official support of the Pope.