So far, in this series:
- Church Militant “Den of Thieves” hits close to home
- “Den of Thieves” Vatican Bank and money laundering: AUM “accreditation”
- “Den of Thieves” Coincidences! Che Bella!
- “Den of Thieves” Death threat! Bellissima!
The “Den of Thieves” documentary is about how some few people, allegedly dazzled with money, allegedly cynically used the desire of others, that desire being to provide for the common good as motivated by genuine religious piety. It’s not that those others who were being used were “important” or “had extraordinary talents.” No. They were simply convenient stooges in the eyes of the cynical, nothing, pawns to be removed at will.
This resonates with me because it seems to me that, at a certain point, I was set to be one of the stooges for this alleged money laundering scheme, just another convenient, useful idiot in the eyes of those same cynical people. It was a perfect storm of coincidences. Nothing more. I’m nothing, nobody, but certainly eager in my naïveté. Apologies for dragging you though some personal history, but what is recounted here about my being thrown into the dark side of the Church and then about anti-Mafia connections feeds into what I think may be a lead someone might want to take up regarding the alleged money laundering of the (Catholic) American University of Madaba, Jordan (AUM) and the alleged money laundering of Vatican Bank. No apologies, however, for my throwing in some humor with this. We gotta lighten it up, right?
Encouragement to get to know the dark side
Just by happenstance logistical circumstance, as a nobody seminarian, way back in the day, I became friends with a newly ordained priest who was actually a believer, solidly Catholic, pious, one of the few truly brilliant minds in the Church today. Over the decades he became concerned that I was too entrenched in being oblivious to the real world, the way things are, the glaring wounds slashed upon, hammered into the Body of Christ. Over a period of some months he tried to convince me that part of being faithful is to recognize all the unfaithfulness there is all around us, also in the Holy See, the Roman Curia, Satan prowling to murder souls. I had been too content with seeing myself as evil, but, please God, saved by Jesus Christ. Out of sloth, I didn’t want to also much notice the needs of the Lord’s Little Flock.
One day, many years having gone by but still repeating his mantra against my naïvité, he then added that a certain papabile (someone quite likely to be elected Pope in a future conclave) with whom he was acquainted ex officio, needed a driver, and that I would be perfect for this, as it would be my chance to get to know the dark side, those individuals in the Church who had chosen not to follow Jesus. Finally I would be put face to face with the needs of the Lord’s Little Flock that my friend knew all too well. But, he warned me repeatedly, this papabile is likely a homosexualist. Well, that was no surprise. I had been surrounded by that in the seminary and throughout my priesthood. This simply meant that I was to meet up with sociopathic rationalizations now more than ever.
This is the kind of thing an ecclesiastical library rat – the most extreme in wanting to be nobody so as to make the silence of a highly protected library effective – would be happy to do, as it would permit (1) continuing in the joy of being nobody, (2) it would afford entertainment (which was otherwise walking about Rome memorizing Greek and Hebrew paradigms) and (3) might possibly aid in the betterment of the Church, however that would work out, trusting my friend that he knew what he was doing. He was an occasional Confessor for me and, on occasion, also a spiritual director. I was well aware that this was also for the good of my soul, meant to rip me out of the entirely too-easy-life of the naïve.
My friend then said he’s going to make a phone call to set this up. Some days later, he told me that I was expected at that papabile’s residence at my convenience. I put this off for weeks, but at his insistence, I went. Was I being set up to be a spy, reporting back to my friend? Sure. Obviously. That’s also the point. I trusted him and still do trust him to this day, entirely. Is that being naïve? I was learning.
On the periphery of Sankt Gallen
In the space of just a year and a half I was catapulted into extreme Church politics, gaining in perspective. This included moving amongst the movers and shakers and other papabili of the time. For instance, I gave a retreat to a certain group of priests and power-monsignors of the Archdiocese of Milan as a favor to Cardinal Martini, S.J., a fellow “Scripture scholar” of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, if you’ll forgive my adding myself in name to such a gnostic group. After that retreat, Martini tried to draw me in closer, having his minions, now inside the Jesuit Biblicum, put pressure on me to do translations for his non-stop verbiage published at the time everywhere in the world. On one occasion, I was brought to within a few miles of Sankt Gallen when that particular papabile for whom I was a “driver” threw an apoplectic tantrum as he remembered some real-time church politics taking place there. This actually scared me. He was frantic: “Turn into that parking lot! Now! – Now turn around! – Go, go, go!” I had no idea what Sankt Gallen was back then. Needless to say, this incident indicates that I wasn’t quite in the inner circle, though I would continue to be invited to accompany the power-Cardinals at whatever Pontifical event. I’ve been given the name “the janitor”, but now I was “the driver”. Still a nobody, thanks be to God. Sorry, just a little humor to lighten it up a bit:
Again, for me, all this was entertainment in the midst of stratospheric academics. It was an opportunity to do what I never do, provoking or responding to ferocious discussions on the most essential refinements of perspective that was “steering the policy” (a phrase I hate) regarding the world and the Church. I would try to point out that our redemption wrought in Christ is the driving engine of history, that Jesus is the Lord of History. Deaf ears for that pronouncement.
In those years I could and would wend my own way throughout, say, the Secretariat of State, from the “Tower” to the Terzo Piano, always starting from the wrong door, say, the back door of the back door, just to gaslight security, teaching them a lesson in just how unprepared they are, just to do it. Conversely, I would be brought into even the most remote offices and back corridors throughout Vatican City State. For instance, I was left home alone, if you will, for hours, with the secret archives specifically of the Congregation for Bishops, right in front of me, I’m guessing as a test. The chain of custody, if you will, wouldn’t be lost if there were cameras. But maybe I was the stooge. Or simply trusted. There’s my naïveté.
Weirdly, I was invited, pressured really, by a number higher-ups and papabili throughout the years to investigate the maze of tunnels also used for electrical conduits and old pneumatic communications systems crisscrossing below Vatican City, throughout the Roman Curia, and everything inclusive in between, and one of which was still used. My questions, retrieving answers, and countered with recommendations, were all about security. I heard later that one of those recommendations for the residence “Santa Marta” involving what I’ll call “security windows”, with a certain chemical barrier, was taken up with the most up-to-date technologies. Another recommendation was taken up for the Holy Office after my own computer was disappeared, which is laughable; whoever it was got a lot of Greek and Hebrew paradigms and exegetical notes. Ooo! The Hail Mary in Greek! The Lord’s Prayer in Syriac! Many offices in the Curia had been hit that very night.
My friend who threw me into this maelstrom told me frequently that I was beginning to be “feared in the Roman Curia.” This was a warning. And this wasn’t because I was important. It’s because I was an unknown quantity. People hate that. He himself was taken aback as all this was taking on a life of its own. He didn’t elaborate, but the original papabile to whom I was “assigned”, so to speak, often mentioned… incidents… meetings… in which I was brought up by this or that Cardinal Prefect, this or that Archbishop Secretary, including various and sundry at the top of the Secretariat of State. There were objections about me that were met with strong defenses. That particular papabile (who set me up with Martini), named names, stating who my friends were, repeating their names again and again over the years. This surprised me, as I had never met or talked to such people, and wondered what that was all about.
I am not bragging about this. It makes me feel unclean. But learning about the dark side was good for my priesthood. Being at least slightly less naïve has provided that I can be a bit more available to Jesus for what He wants of me in navigating all the hell there is in this dark world.
But such a life history can and did have unintended consequences. Whenever one moves in the circles of those who are also, say, at the center of international finances, to the point of teaching financiers philosophical nuances of rationalizations for whatever economic systems, that is, to the point of manipulating world leaders, or those who in turn manipulate world leaders, through larger than life institutions such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, various parliaments and influential mega-rich individuals, it is then that one is also noticed by the intelligence community. They want to know who such a person is, for better or worse. And that’s just really annoying for them. I was annoying for them. Again, it’s not because I’m important. It’s because I’m happy to be the useful idiot for the good of my own soul. The question for those who notice this regards whether I’m willing to be even more of an idiot than I already am. Trusting my friend is one thing. Trusting intel is quite another.
Recruitment tactics of anti-Mafia GICO
Years after being thrown into the dark side, so, now in the mid-2000s, I was at targeted for recruitment by the Gruppo d’investigazione sulla criminalità organizzata (Organized Crime Investigation Group = GICO), which is a specialized department of the Guardia di Finanza, the Guardians of Finance, an Italian law enforcement agency, a subsection of their Department of Defense. That should tell you something about those in the Roman Curia I was hanging around with. Some of the GICO are Tier 1 operators. They investigate and finish what they start regarding international drug trafficking, smuggling, financial crimes, money laundering, terrorism, what always goes hand in hand with money laundering, which is the financing of terrorism, not to mention their attempts to tamp down human and sex trafficking. They also have much to do, therefore, with customs and border protection. But most especially, with intensity, any GICO adrenaline rush is being everywhere and everything all that which is anti-Mafia. They’re the ones.
My recruitment, at first, wasn’t meant to tear me away from the inner sanctums of the library of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where I was daily, literally, the first to enter and the last to leave. Academic endeavors having nothing to do with the Mafia were one of the aspects of my life lending me, strangely, the street cred needed to move among those who were to be my named targets for spying, that is, some particular Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. On the Italian peninsula, where there’s money, there are also all-too-clever mafiosi. There were two individuals involved in my recruitment to assist with anti-Mafia activities, one I’ll call The Thug, the other The buffoon.
The thug entered my life after I once again arrived in Italy, and had sent boxes of books back to Rome. The thug had waylaid those boxes, sending them instead to his anti-Mafia office he was temporarily using at the docks down in Naples. Killing two birds with one stone, I first attended the celebrations for San Gennaro on 19 September and then went to “his” office. He himself didn’t appear, though we had had many phone calls leading up to this would-be meeting. He threatened me with all sorts of trumped up charges, such as tax evasion for using old and tattered dictionaries instead of buying new ones in Italy. Pfft. More seriously, I had sent restricted medicine to myself from oversees, a supply of some months as it takes forever to get a doctor in Rome and this was medicine on which I depend to stay alive from day to day. My bad. I had brought a supply on the plane with me, but I would need this other medicine soon enough. My anti-Mafia friend had waylaid this at the airport in Rome. I complained that I would have to go overseas to get the medicine and then return again, continuously. I told him honestly that I didn’t know it was restricted. Kicking me in the face was now counterproductive for him, so he let me have the meds as well.
This anti-Mafia thug, never letting up, was forever bragging about his accomplishments, what rank he held in the anti-Mafia and what his role had been in famous Mafia take-downs up to that point. He was poised to become part of the top council of the anti-Mafia. I’m guessing that such stories, true or not, were meant as a threat as much as some sort of credibility statement. He would literally hunt me down wherever in Italy I was, befriending me by, say, taking me on day-trips to whatever ecclesiastical pilgrimage site. I played along with such shenanigans because in doing so, one learns much about motivations. Indeed, the whole time he would speak of what he wanted me to take on as assignments from him, so that I would report to him about – you guessed it – the Cardinals whose names and residences he correctly iterated. He had this witnessed, though such conversations would not be public. I was to to be a spy, but this time for the Italian Ministry of Defense. One of the more ironic day trips was to Orvieto. He said he wanted to get my comment on Signorelli’s mural of the anti-Christ in the side chapel of that zebra-Cathedral. Clever.
For a really cool slide-show about the zebra-esque “Duomo” from Google Maps: HERE. Really awesome. And he was right. I was truly impressed. But I think my explanation of the anti-Christ went right over his head.
By now any threats were over, and he had moved on to bribery. For instance, for the summer months of my return to Italy I was living on the top of a mountain some 100 kms North of Rome. I would commute by bus which normally went to the top of that mountain. He had said that he had arranged with the chief at the local police station at the base of the mountain to give me a ride, personally, wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. Imagine the hatred that chief would have for that guy, and by extension, for me. Immediately after such arrangements were made, the bus was cancelled at the bottom of the mountain, and likewise the train. Just when I arrived. Again and again. Coincidence?
This left all the bus passengers flustered. Even though a number of times it would be raining, and even though it was a hike of many miles up the all too steep mountain, an old volcano, I wouldn’t take the bribe. I was asked about my not taking the bribe some time later. The guy was really angry. I had made a fool of him. Bribery is the flip side of extortion. The thug was so very sleazy that I didn’t trust him at all. Hence, my nickname for him, the thug.
Soon after this failure, still in the mid-2000s, I was at targeted for recruitment once again by GICO, this time intensifying the pressure by using someone a bit more clean, more refined, more polite, with a judicial grasp of the Italian language, a talent preemptively winning all arguments in Italy. This buffoon was the top Italian military attorney, now also getting his degree in Canon Law as he was the named liaison between the Italian Department of Defense and the Holy See. The Italian military cooperates with the Holy See in just about everything security-wise, and there is a lot of legal maneuvering what with ever refined concordats and such. He had moved into my priests’ residence in Rome and after no time he was wanting to arrange that I become a pastor of a certain parish in southern Italy in order to help them arrest certain mafiosi by their bugging of my Confessionals, etc.
Unlike the thug, he did this recruiting as if it were all good, above board. He did this publicly, hoping to legitimize his request by attempting to make such an agreement with me in front of important and well connected ecclesiastics in Rome, one of them a well known professor, a consultant for the Holy See, entrenched in the Middle East, and a Pontifical Confessor at one of the major papal basilicas in Rome, always at hobnobbing events, known to everyone in the Holy See and amongst the worldly politicians of the day. Since I’m actually a priest, there’s no way I’m going to betray the Seal of Confession. They would all have known of the automatic excommunication awaiting any priest who breaks the Seal of Confession. I said this plainly. This attorney guy failed as well.
Yet, for him to get to that point, finalizing arrangements for this rather sensitive operation with the Holy See, this attorney guy would have already done his due diligence in my regard. Such a background check, if you will, would have not been possible unless it had been put directly in front of the guy in this series whom I nickname Bellissima. In proportion to this being out of the ordinary, coming from the Italian Department of Defense, such a request would be duly noted, remembered. More than that, Bellissima would have been acutely aware that I had gotten a Propaganda Due “P2” guy out of the Holy Office right at that time. That was quite the nuclear explosion all on its own, and was confirmed for me years later by the head of Intel for the Holy See. But I digress.
But perhaps this buffoon guy was actually doing me a favor, giving me the opportunity to publicly manifest a rejection, thus distancing myself from any mafia-esque disgruntlement. But I’m not “important” enough for that kind of cover which is at best ineffective. There would still be a question mark over my name. Even a buffoon would know this, and so would anyone hearing of this. After my rejecting his offer to assist in taking down some individuals in the Mafia, he could have come to me later, privately, and said, “Well played! Hahaha. So, what’s your real answer?”
Back to alleged money laundering at the American University of Madaba and Vatican Bank
Fast forward a few years when it’s now crunch time for the new American University of Madaba, Jordon, which was seemingly, allegedly, from the beginning, set up as a front for money laundering as pointed out in Church Militant’s documentary “Den of Thieves” (which I’ve repeatedly showcased at the top of every installment in this series). It’s now 2010 and AUM, though incorporated in, of all places, New Hampshire, has zero accreditation in the USA, not even in New Hampshire. It all seems to be just a lot of deceptive fakery. Important donors, to the tune of millions of dollars, were getting skittish. It was all about to implode. The perfect storm.
When it was discovered that I was willing to work and teach in Israel and then be transferred to within an easy bike ride of the American University of Madaba, and that I had already assisted a university level Catholic institution to get their accreditation, and that I could easily have supplied the Holy Mass and sacraments and whatever, say, optional courses in philosophy, theology, Scripture (even though AUM was not explicitly mentioned in that trajectory of life laid out for me), well, that information would allegedly have been shared with Bella in New Hampshire. I’m thinking Bella is the guy who assisted AUM with incorporation, with “accreditation”, and, most importantly, with the money laundering. I’m thinking that Bella knew absolutely nothing about me. But happy to capitalize on such an opportunity in giving AUM a little boost, he immediately called his friend, Bellissima, with whom he’s as thick as thieves, so as to say: “We have a convenient stooge, a useful idiot, someone who’s nobody, who can help AUM’s standing.”
See previous installments of this series about Bella and Bellissima. It would have been quite impossible for Bellissima not to have known about my activities in the Holy See and then with the anti-Mafia. For all of them, I’m exactly, precisely the person that would have to be kept far away from AUM. As I mentioned in a previous posting in this series, a threat, delivered with consummate politeness yet thuggery of enforcing the threat was called into my own ecclesiastical higher-ups, putting a kibosh on my getting on the plane to Tel Aviv within hours, that cancellation causing catastrophic difficulties in many countries. I was entrenched in being a nobody and that was the problem. I couldn’t be verified as a friendly, and there was a question mark as to why I had been hanging with papabili and anti-Mafia for years.
All just my opinion. I’m not implicating anyone, not naming anyone. The underlying allegations of money laundering are made by someone else whom I don’t know, whom I’ve never talked with, in the video up top of this post. What I write here might perhaps be considered as a lead by some few. I don’t know. I’m just putting my own experiences out there. At least for me, this narrative answers the most questions the most consistently and the most simply. Perhaps it’s all fiction. I don’t know. To me, it raises questions.
As the Lord’s providence would have it, I would again cross paths with both Bella and Bellissima not long thereafter. And it wasn’t pleasant.
Next up in this series: “Den of Thieves” Vatican Bank – J’accuse!