By Betty Clermont | 23 August 2015
Two and a half years after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s elevation as head of the Church, the dust has settled. He has packed the Vatican with vulture capitalists and those who support them. Three cardinals have emerged as the most powerful in this papacy; all have close ties to Opus Dei. Two now control Vatican finance.
Except for its clergy, Opus Dei is a secret society of global financiers, bankers, businessmen, politicians and their supporters. Still the most exhaustively researched book written about “The Work” as it is referred to by its members, Their Kingdom Come (1997, 2006) by Robert Hutchison, a Canadian financial journalist, traces the growth of Opus Dei financial power “by all available means” – deception, dirty tricks, even “physical muscle.” “What gives Opus Dei its importance is the influence it wields and also that it deploys its immense financial resources. Opus Dei knows very well that money rules the world,” Javier Sainz Moreno, professor of Law at Madrid University, told Hutchison. One of their goals was to control the Vatican’s wealth, now closer than ever to being realized.
Investigative journalist, Martin A. Lee, wrote in 1983: “Opus Dei has emerged internationally as one of the most powerful and politically committed of the Catholic lay groups. Detractors have likened the organization to a ‘saintly Mafia’ for its members control a large number of banks and financial institutions … The tentacles of Octopus Dei, as it is sometimes called, stretch all the way to the U.S. … Opus Dei powerbrokers have gained enormous influence inside the Vatican since they helped install the current pope.” (i.e Pope John Paul II)
The first action Bergoglio took as pope was to name a Council of Cardinals.
Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, named coordinator of the group, has become “virtually a vice pope.” Rodriguez is “the leader of Opus Dei” in Honduras which “participated actively in the 2009 coup against the constitutional [and progressive] president, Manuel Zelaya … Active members of this clan are making intromissions in Honduran national politics.”
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa “forged ties with then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the Latin American Episcopal Council in the decade before the Buenos Aires, Argentina, prelate became pope … When Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998, on orders of a magistrate judge in Madrid investigating atrocities against Spanish citizens during the Chilean dictatorship, Errazuriz denounced the move. He later criticized human rights lawsuits in Chile against Pinochet and other officials of the former regime, saying, ‘Excessive justice could be detrimental to reconciliation and social peace.’” Errazuriz linked Chile’s economic success with reforms carried out during former General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973 -1990). Martin A. Lee noted the close ties between Opus Dei and the Pinochet regime.
After becoming an archbishop, Australian Cardinal George Pell invited Opus Dei to establish themselves in Melbourne and then Sydney. Under Pell’s patronage, “Opus Dei’s star is on the rise, it is said, and that of others – including other more established groups within the Church – is sinking,” Sydney Morning Herald’s religious affairs columnist wrote in January 2002. This reporter saw “signs of a new elitism, a clerical culture is being encouraged in which there is a highly select ‘in’ crowd around Pell.”
Pell has maintained a close relationship with Australia’s conservative PM, Tony Abbott, and his party for decades. Days before the pope appointed Pell to his Council of Cardinals, Pell attended a “Gala Dinner” celebrating the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) “a right-wing corporate funded think tank based in Melbourne.” Rupert Murdoch was guest of honor. “Democracy not Murdoch-cracy. Stop Corporate Media Domination” was the sign carried by those who protested the event.
The pope later appointed Pell as “tsar” over Vatican finance. (Murdoch tweeted: “Pope Francis appoints brilliant Cardinal Pell from Sydney to be no.3 power in Vatican. Australia will miss him but world will benefit.”)
Pell’s only previous financial expertise was cheating clerical sex abuse victims out of an adequate compensation known as his “Melbourne response” and “Ellis defense” where Pell “instructed his lawyers to crush this victim.” Pell brought his Sydney business manager, Danny Casey, “who is known to have close ties to Opus Dei,” to the Vatican.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx was the invited speaker for 300 guests of Opus Dei at a meeting held in the Deutsche Bank. He has presided at Masses celebrating Opus Dei‘s founder, Josemaria Escriva, and visits the Opus Dei center for university students in Munich.
The pope appointed Marx as coordinator for The Council for the Economy which is to advise Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy.
Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s politics, like Bergoglio’s, are decidedly right-wing. (“Some Jesuits say quietly that Bergoglio, despite being a Jesuit, is closer ideologically to Opus Dei.”) Although Romneycare included coverage for abortion services, O’Malley never launched a campaign to oppose the Republican governor’s health insurance plan. Instead, O’Malley said that “Romney was a better friend to the Catholic Church than any other Massachusetts governor in decades.” Failing to elect Romney and get Obamacare repealed, O’Malley joined with other U.S. bishops in obstructing the Affordable Healthcare Act. O’Malley has also sponsored the canonization of the priest who established an Opus Dei presence among students and professors at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 1946 and 1956.
When Pope Francis recently toured South America, he was accompanied by laymen Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, acting chairman of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Carriquiry is a member of Opus Dei, Bergoglio’s “close friend” and “highest ranking layman at the Vatican.”
In January 2014, the pope named Rodriguez Maradiaga and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, the most senior Opus Dei hierarch, as additional members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and Opus Dei Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, U.S., as councilor of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Pope Francis also appointed Cipriani to his Council for the Economy. “Under Cipriani’s leadership, the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, became an investor in the stocks of one of the most controversial mining companies, Yanacocha, which sparked the mobilization of large-scale environmental social movement in the country. Cipriani has always sided with businesses and the government in office … We have never heard him defending a community that is confronting a mine or a company for pollution. His voice is not on the side of indigenous peoples or farming communities.” Cipriani was a staunch supporter of former head of state Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving in prison for crimes against humanity.
Pope Francis’ financial consultants:
The first outside financial consultant hired by this pope: a “guru from McKinsey & Co. to design that reform of the curia which everyone expects from Pope Francis.” Cardinal Pell, head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy: “In terms of the financial reform … we also have a number of young people from McKinsey who are making a wonderful contribution and, I think, are happy to be part of this.”
“McKinsey might be the single greatest legitimizer of mass layoffs in history … The whole idea of corporate powerhouses laying off thousands of people during good times simply to juice profits – and, naturally, executive compensation – is something that McKinsey has definitely had a hand in as well … The origins of the pay gap – which now sits at an absurd 354-to-1 ratio – can arguably be traced to one McKinsey consultant and work that he did for clients as far back as the 1950s.” Enron’s CEO, Jeff Skilling, “who’s now serving time in prison, was ex-McKinsey, and so much about how Enron fell apart was due to ideas that Skilling brought over from McKinsey and that McKinsey celebrated at Enron – emphasizing vision over execution, a ruthless human resources policy that resulted in excessive employee churn, as well as more prosaic issues like off-balance-sheet financing and securitization.”
The hiring of Promontory Financial Group by Pope Francis “represented a triumph of the American on the board of the Vatican Bank, Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus – who have “invested millions in the Catholic Church’s war against women and gays. “Behind the moves of Promontory are not only the U.S. clergy who made a decisive contribution to Bergoglio’s election, but also some foreign financiers,” reported l’Espresso.
In the U.S., “Promontory’s activities focus heavily on the adept circumvention of regulations … At a U.S. Federal Reserve foreclosure review meant to provide compensation to abused homeowners, whistleblowers from Bank of America came forward to provide compelling evidence that the bank and its independent consultant, Promontory Financial Group, attempted to suppress evidence that borrowers had been harmed by the false and deceptive practices of the mortgages lenders.”
In August 2015, Promontory paid a $15 million penalty to New York’s financial regulators for “its actions on behalf of a big British bank which did not meet current consulting requirements.” The Department of Financial Services “released a scathing report that accused the firm of lacking independence in its work for Standard Chartered, which was under investigation on suspicion of processing transactions on behalf of Iran and other countries under sanctions.”
Pope Francis has hired “McKinsey & Company, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and so on. At one stage, an Italian writer jokingly suggested relocating the Vatican from Rome to New York to save all those doyens of profit the commute.”
Ernst & Young “has agreed to pay $99 million to former Lehman Brothers investors who have accused the auditor of helping Lehman misstate its financial records before the investment bank’s collapse triggered a financial crisis in 2008.”
“KPMG Facilitated the Financial Fiasco.” “Pioneers of mortgage debt securitization from Morgan Stanley and Black Rock set the stage for the financial crisis that severely disrupted the global economy. While these players and poor government policies have received much attention in recent years, auditors, such as KPMG International, enabled the crisis to metastasize at an accelerated rate. KPMG was the auditor for the key players in the mortgage crisis, including Fannie Mae, Countrywide Financial and New Century Mortgage.”
When Banco Santander president Emilio Botin died 2014, the office passed to his daughter Ana Patricia Botin. Emilio Botin was “the third generation of bankers of Santander, close to Opus Dei.” After Francis’ election, Banco Santander offered to make itself available “at the Vatican’s disposition.” Banco Santander will now “have a presence that is going to mean a new leading role in the Vatican.”
Banco Santander is “a colossus with $ 18.7 billion with 10,000 branches (prides itself on having the most branches than any other bank in the world) are present mainly in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, those territories inhabited by tens of millions of Catholics.” Banco Santander, rated Britain’s worst, was accused of gouging U.S. consumers. “The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs announced that it had issued subpoenas to two subsidiaries of the Spanish lender Banco Santander, which together represent one of the country’s largest originators of auto loans … The subprime auto lending industry is facing increased regulatory scrutiny. Critics say the industry takes advantage of vulnerable borrowers, who often have to pay steep rates for the loans.”
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, with a doctorate from Opus Dei‘s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, to oversee APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See) which manages the Vatican’s investment and property portfolios.
The pope appointed Peter Sutherland, Irish master of the universe, as an adviser to APSA. Sutherland is managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, advisory director of Goldman Sachs Group, former chairman of BP Oil and European chairman of the Trilateral Commission. He is also on the advisory board of IESE Opus Dei’s flagship graduate business school.
Pope Francis added the following members to the board of the Vatican Bank:
Mary Ann Glendon has sat on the board of religious right organizations such as Bill Donohue’s Catholic League, theocon George Weigel’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the infamous Institute on Religion and Democracy funded by the usual neocon foundations: Castle Rock, Earhart, Olin, Scaife, Lynde and Harry Bradley. President George W. Bush appointed her to be his U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Perhaps she is most famous for declining an award from Notre Dame in 2009 because the university had chosen President Obama as its commencement speaker.
Mauricio Larrain is external director of Santander Bank Group Chile and general director of Opus Dei’s ESE Business School at Los Andes University of Chile.
Clemens Boersig, ex-chairman of Deutsche Bank, along with four other bank executives was ordered in March 2015 to stand trial on fraud charges in Germany.
Sir Michael Hintze, former Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse executive, is an Australian-born hedge fund billionaire.
Laymen on the Council for the Economy include:
George Yeo is a former finance minister of Singapore and a Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces is a member of the Vatican Council of the Economy. He graduated from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. Yeo is a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and the International Advisory Board of Opus Dei IESE Business School. He was recently appointed as a non-official member of the newly established Hong Kong Economic Development Commission. Yeo was awarded the Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia.
(Yeo’s appointment along with Hong Kong Cardinal Tong Hon to the Council for the Economy, naming the head of Opus Dei in the East a new Hong Kong bishop and appointing Lord Christopher Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, to be in charge of restructuring the Vatican’s media operations, indicates the Pope Francis’ increasing interest in the Pacific Rim.)
John F. Kyle retired in 2008 as vice president and treasurer of Imperial Oil Ltd., Exxon Mobil’s Canadian subsidiary.
Enrique Llano Cueto was an audit partner of KPMG and then lead partner responsible for major clients in the public and private sectors.
Jochen Messemer is a former partner of McKinsey & Company.
Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009).
– Opus Dei Influence Rises to the Top in the Vatican
– The Catholic Right: An Introduction To The Role Of Opus Dei
– Opus Dei: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church
– Opus Dei: The Vatican-Pentagon Connection
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