SILVESTRINI, BERTONE AND THE 150.000 EURO PER YEAR FROM THE IOR TO VILLA NAZARETH…31 Agosto 2019 --
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The death of Cardinal Silvestrini (may he rest in peace) prompted me to rummage through the notes of many years ago, when I was still the Vaticanist of La Stampa. Those were the years of Benedict XVI and Cardinal Bertone, with whom there was a natural sympathy. And I had, far more than now, frequent relationships with people behnd the Walls, and spoke wth people of his staff; or in any case, people close to him. I vaguely remembered something, and poking around in the notes – there are many, and most of them never published, – confirmed it. There was a story.
It was a story that did not particularly strike me at the time. Now it represents a curiosity; all the more so because, as we know, the President of the Council appointed comes from Villa Nazareth, he is a member of the Institution; and Villa Nazareth is the élite training school for lay people, run and managed by the Holy See’s élite, namely diplomacy. Silvestrini – and probably before him Casaroli, and after him Parolin and Celli, did everything they could to find professional outlets to the students. I remember the urgent recommendations made to newspaper editors to find a way to get eager and imaginative amateurs into the newspaper ranks. But this is another matter.
In the notes I found the amusing story told by one of my confidant in the Bertonian State Secretariat. Amusing because with the typical cynicism of certain prelates the naivety of well-meaning lay people was underlined …
In short: it seems that as soon as Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was appointed President of the IOR, the Vatian Bank, card. Silvestrini hastened to visit him.
It was not just a courtesy visit: he asked him to continue to contribute, as his predecessor (Caloia) did, to the maintenance of Villa Nazareth, and asked him for a sum of around 150,000 euros a year.
Laughing, it was explained to me that Gotti Tedeschi was very puzzled by the request, which he thought was too high; and that did not seem to be in line with the donations normally given to religious Institutions.
But it was a request made by a cardinal of Silvestrini’s prestige, and Gotti decided therefore to talk about it with the Secretary of State, card. Bertone.
Apparently the Secretary of State agreed with the reservations expressed by the President of the IOR. The friend explained to me, but I could have imagined it by myself, that two considerations played in this: Silvestrini was considered a friend of the previous President of the IOR and an “enemy” of the Ratzinger pontificate; and a foe of Bertone, as a result.
Who had been appointed Secretary of State without belonging to the caste of diplomats! Bertone therefore invited Gotti Tedeschi to find a solution giving some money, but a little sum.
From what they told me, Gotti Tedeschi tried to use a professional way out: he asked card. Silvestrini to consult the budget, quantitative and qualitative, of Villa Nazareth, so as to be able to assess the needs, and decide on the basis of this the contribution to be given by the IOR. The contribution should have been anyway approved by the Board of Directors.
The story ended there, as far as I was concerned. A few weeks later I met my source again, and after talking about several other topics, I asked him, en passant, how much IOR had given to Villa Nazareth. He burst out laughing and told me. “Bertone told the IOR President to grant the entire sum requested by Silvestrini.” I asked the reason for such a radical turnaround. The answer was: “Silvestrini is very powerful, better stay in good terms with him…”.
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