Italian weekly 'uncovers gay scandal' at Vatican Bank

'Prelate's past involved Swiss officer boyfriend'

Italian weekly 'uncovers gay scandal' at Vatican Bank

Rome, July 18 - An Italian weekly has reported of new troubles at the Vatican Bank involving an alleged gay prelate and his "scandalous past". According to L'Espresso, Monsignor Battista Ricca, who was recently appointed to an office at the bank by Pope Francis, rocked priests and nuns at the Vatican embassy, or nunciature, of Montevideo, Uruguay in 1999 with his amorous conduct involving a Swiss army captain named Patrick Haari. According to L'Espresso's sources, Ricca secured Haari a job and a place to live in the nunciature, where "the intimacy of the relationship was so shocking" to everyone around that a new nuncio (ambassador) in 2000 appealed unsuccessfully to the Vatican to have Haari removed over the "intolerable menage". In early 2001, Ricca was allegedly "caught in more than one incident over his reckless conduct," L'Espresso said. "One day, having gone, as on other occasions, to a popular gay meeting point, he was beaten up and had to call on priests for help, eventually arriving at the nunciature with a bruised face". In another incident that summer, Ricca was reputedly found in the middle of the night inside a blocked elevator with a young man, both of whom were rescued by the fire department. It was reportedly enough to have Haari dismissed and Ricca transferred by then Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano to Trinidad and Tobago and then recalled to the Vatican. According to L'Espresso's sources, the pope has been "embittered" upon recently learning of the affair and "will soon make decisions" as to what to do next. Last month the pope was quoted by a key Latin American church group as lamenting a "gay lobby" in the Vatican and a "stream of corruption" in the Roman Curia, the Church's central administration. The Vatican Bank, officially known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has been working to overcome a murky reputation, namely with respect to its record on combatting money laundering. After coming into the prosecutors' cross-hairs, IOR has started working with the Council of Europe's Moneyval anti-money-laundering agency in a bid to make it onto the so-called white list. Last month Francis set up a pontifical commission on IOR, to brief the pontiff on the bank's activities and make sure it operated in harmony with the "Church's mission". Just two days later, a top prelate and former accounting chief, Nunzio Scarano, was arrested in connection with a failed attempt to fly 20 million euros of laundered money back from Switzerland to Italy. Before his arrest, Scarano had been suspended from his job as head of analytic accounts at the Holy See's asset-management agency APSA, which is indirectly linked to the Vatican Bank. (photo: The Vatican Bank, IOR)

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