di Mario Primerano
Vatican City, January 22 - The Vatican on Tuesday dismissed an article published by London's the Guardian newspaper on its alleged secret property empire as coming from another world. "I am amazed by the article in the Guardian, which seems to come from someone who is among the asteroids," said Vatican Spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi in response to the article accusing the papacy of using money originally handed over by fascist dictator Mussolini in exchange for Vatican recognition of his regime and offshore tax havens to create an international portfolio worth £500 million with real estate in the UK, France and Switzerland. "These things have been public knowledge for 80 years" as a result of the 1929 Lateran Pacts regulating relations between the Italian state and the Roman Catholic Church, the spokesman added. On Monday the Guardian printed an article listing elements of the Vatican's alleged secret commercial property empire including the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in London's New Bond Street, and the headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital on the corner of St James's Square and Pall Mall. It also denounced the apparent "lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions".