They call him “Ettore il Cattolicissimo”—“Ettore the Most Catholic,” and to one who chooses his hotels based on their proximity to churches where he may attend daily Mass, the nickname is a compliment. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is the president of the Institute for Works of Religion, informally known as “the Vatican Bank,” a job conferred on him in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. In Rome, he dedicates three days out five to this work, “in a spirit of service.” The two remaining weekdays he can be found in Milan, dividing his time between his job as chairman of Santander for Italy, one of the world’s largest banks, and Catholic University, where he teaches financial ethics.
Spending his life in the seeming contradictions that so obsess the modern-day, liberal Catholic mentality—serving God while having to do with Mammon—how does Tedeschi come to terms with the hopeless plight of the rich, apparently doomed to loitering in luxury on the bad side of the needle’s eye? He explained his position, and more, in this interview with CWR.
There are those to whom the very existence of something called “Vatican Bank” sounds sinister. In our day of political correctness, we are suspicious towards any and whatever connection between the Church and money. But historically speaking, has this kind of prejudice been a problem in the past as well?
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi: The debate over whether the Church should have money for its needs is at least 1,700 years old. It is mentioned in documents dating back as early as the third century. It was Clement of Alexandria, one of the Church Fathers, who first wrote about it, in presiding over a dispute about whether the Church should or should not have money. Basically what he said was that, of itself, wealth is neutral—what matters is how it is accrued and for what it is used.
Surely that reasoning should have been conclusive?
Tedeschi: Actually, no. The debate went on for centuries even after that. In the Middle Ages it was discussed by the Franciscan friars, who dedicated themselves to explaining the laws of the economy. It was discussed after the discovery of America, when Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans of the School of Salamanca laid out the rules of modern-day economy. It was discussed during and after the Council of Trent. And above all it has undoubtedly been at the forefront of discussions in the last 300 years, after the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquest of Italy, which began the so-called “Matter of Rome,” calling into question the temporal power of the Church.
You mean that issue came up half a century before the unification of Italy under the House of Savoy?
Read the entire interview on www.CatholicWorldReport.com...