Bernie Goes to Rome – II
So His Holiness Pope Francis briefly met with Senator Sanders after all. ‘This morning when I was leaving [to Greece ‑AO], Senator Sanders was there, he had come to the convention. He knew I was leaving at that time and he had the courtesy to greet me. I greeted him, his wife and another couple who were there and were sleeping in Santa Martha,’ said the Pope. (Am I the only one who gets a really awkward feeling, picturing that scene?) The other couple must have been Jeffrey Sachs and his wife. About Jeffrey Sachs more later, perhaps.
I doubt if there was time for a conversation beyond politeness and admiration. What a pity, for If anyone on our our tormented planet knows how to deal with big banks, it’d be the current Pope. When he got elected into office one of his first bold moves was to take further steps in the cathartic reform of the Vatican’s corrupted financial institutions. Francis was courageous, to an extend that many feared he would be killed before he could even start his pontifical works of purification of the Vatican’s finances. For there is a lot at stake in the city-state’s economy.
The Institute for the Works of Religion is an intriguing bank. It has a history of corruption and money laundering. It has been funneling covert United States funds to the Contras in Nicaragua, the right wing opposition to the Sandinista regime, that was so loudly hailed and praised by Senator Sanders in the ‘80s. Sanders’ support of this Marxist regime deserves a closer look. But for now I’d like to just state that Bernie’s supporters’ claim that the Senator has always been ‘on the right side of history’ is a damnable lie: the Sandinistas’ reputation includes open and violent anti-Semitism, in fact the burning of synagogues and ethnic cleansing of Nicaragua’s Jewish population and brutal massacre among the indigenous Indian population.
But let’s return to our subject of the day, the hidden treasures of the Roman Catholic Church and how they relate to Sanders’ narrative. The Vatican’s finance department does not excel in transparency. However we know that the Church’s immense capital includes large investments in JPMorgan Chase, the First National Bank of New York (‘Where Everyone Knows Your Name’) and the Bankers Trust Company. Also that the Vatican owns billions of shares in industries like Gulf Oil, Shell, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, General Electric, IBM, etc. Personally I find this stuff highly boring and the only reason I bring it up is this weird move in the campaign strategy of Senator Bernie Sanders.
Without any doubt the Senator and his entourage will be warmly welcomed upon return from his brief unprecedented pilgrimage to the Holy See. The frenzied crowds will be delighted and cheerful and uncritical as usual. And this man won’t cease to shock and surprise us.