A great deal has been written about the Roman Catholic Church as a religious, charitable, and educational institution. But, until now, there has been very little information on the Church as a business organization. Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive and authoritative report that reveals the Vatican
as a nerve center of high finance.
The extent of papal wealth has been traditionally cloaked in secrecy. Even within the Vatican’s own walls there is no one individual who has an overall view of its infinitely ramified financial operations. Church officials have consistently derided all speculations on the magnitude of its resources but have resolutely declined to release real figures. It has remained for Nino Lo Bello—former Rome correspondent for Business Week and now a writer for the Herald Tribune’s Paris Economic Review— to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. The picture that emerges is one of awesome fiscal power.
Mr. Lo Bello describes in fascinating detail Vatican investment in real estate—one-third of Rome is owned by the Holy See— electronics, plastics, airlines, and chemical and engineering firms. He also gives evidence that the Vatican is heavily involved in Italian banking and that it has huge deposits in foreign banks. Some of these accounts are in America, many are in Switzerland. The Vatican financiers prefer numbered Swiss accounts because they allow them to maintain anonymity when gaining control of foreign corporations.
In addition, the author establishes that the Vatican is one of the world’s largest shareholders, with a portfolio that can conservatively be estimated in billions. Although written in the objective, non-sensational style of the newsman, this is a book that finally demonstrates the depth of the Vatican’s commitment to the world of big business.