DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     July 30 - August 1, 1999     vol. 10, no. 142

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Sensationalist and Anti-Catholic Reporting

          VATICAN CITY, JUL 29 (ZENIT).- The September 6 edition of "Fortune" Magazine (available online at http://www.fortune.com) reports on the alleged actions of Fr. Peter Jacobs in a money-laundering scheme to the benefit of Martin Frankel. The article, by investigative reporter Richard Behar, equates the actions of this one priest with a vast Vatican plot to make money off of Frankel's crooked dealings.

          Whether or not this priest was involved in the money-laundering action has yet to be proven, and it seems to be quite precipitous to accuse the Vatican of complicity in this plot. Holy See Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls explained to the press on July 2 that the Vatican does not have any relations with Fr. Jacobs.

          The scheme described in the article involved the setting up of a "charity" called the "St. Francis of Assisi Foundation" that would use the dirty money, keeping 10% of it for itself. This Foundation, in turn, was under the control of the "Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation," which reporter Richard Behar contends is under direct Vatican control.

          The facts of the matter are that neither of these institutions is listed among the juridical persons of the Holy See. Furthermore, the Vatican Bank, which, according to the article, received the money from the "St. Francis of Assisi Foundation," has never had an account for that organization.

          The "proof" that the article produces to imply a deeper Vatican connection to the whole scandal is a statement from Pope Benedict XV (reigned 1914-1922), who said that the "Monitor Ecclesiasticus" Magazine was printed with "special Vatican approval." The reporter adds that Pope Paul VI gave "Monitor Ecclesiasticus" his Apostolic Blessing, and that John Paul II has never made statements against the magazine. From this, the article concludes that the "Monitor Ecclesiasticus" is very close to the Vatican.

          The facts speak differently, though. While "Monitor Ecclesiasticus" Magazine existed in the time of Pope Benedict XV, since 1967 it has been under the control of the "Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation," founded in that year in the Diocese of Naples, outside of Vatican jurisdiction.

          The fact is, like any other Catholic institution, the "Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation" is subject to a certain degree of approval from the Vatican -- its president, Msgr. Colagiovanni, also implicated in the scandal, was appointed by the Secretariat of State -- but the Vatican does not directly oversee the foundation.

    Hidden Agenda?

          All of this leaves the feeling that Behar's article fails in the basic principles of ethical journalism. The article is clearly guilty of sensationalism. Since a single priest getting involved in a dirty scheme doesn't sell magazines, "Fortune" has apparently inflated the story to make it appear that the whole Vatican is involved.

          In the current intellectual environment in the United States, another reason for this attack on the Vatican could even be a latent anti-Catholic sentiment. If a low-level executive in a Fortune 500 company had been accused of wrongdoing, the national news magazines would not blame the company for one man's action. Thus, the Church is being held to a different standard by the media. In our day, it would seem, anti-Catholicism sells.

          The correct interpretation of these events was given by Christ himself (Mt. 13:24-30). The Church is made up of both saints and sinners. It cannot be held responsible as a whole for the actions of one or two men. ZE99072920

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 30 - August 1, 1999       volume 10, no. 142


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