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Vatican quizzical about Guardian article on 'secretive' real-estate investments

January 22, 2013

The Vatican has reacted sharply to an English newspaper article claiming that the Vatican has built up a secret real-estate portfolio, using funds from the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

The Guardian story inaccurately reported that the Vatican has bought valuable properties in Britain and elsewhere “using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.” The funds in question were actually provided by the Italian government under the provisions of the Lateran Accords, to resolve the Vatican’s claims to property seized by Italy. The Lateran Accords were not merely a Vatican agreement with Mussolini; they were the result of negotiations that had continued for more than 50 years, under successive Italian governments, and the agreements have been honored by every Italian government since 1929.

The Guardian story, repeatedly referring to the Vatican’s investment portfolio as “Mussolini’s millions,” says that the Vatican’s investments in real estate have been secret. Actually the Vatican releases a financial report each year, disclosing the overall returns on real-estate and other investments—although it is true that individual properties are not listed.

Questioned about the Guardian article, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said: “I’m bewildered—this article reveals nothing that was not known already.”


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  • Posted by: Defender - Jan. 22, 2013 4:42 PM ET USA

    Doesn't this remind you of the "secret" tunnel connecting the Vatican and Washington, D.C. during JFK's presidency?