Friday, 1 April 2016

Probe into 200k spent on cardinal’s penthouse


THE Vatican has opened an investigation into the financing of renovations at a luxury penthouse occupied by Italian cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former number two in the Holy See hierarchy, officials said yesterday.

Spread across hundreds of square metres at the top of the Palazzo San Carlo and boasting a huge terrace with magnificent views over Rome, Bertone’s sumptuous retirement pad has become synonymous with the kind of clerical extravagance that Pope Francis has vowed to stamp out.

Now it is set to cause f urther embarrassment to the famously frugal pontiff after it was confirmed that a probe has been launched into how 200,000 worth of the renovation costs came to be paid by a foundation linked to Rome’s Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) children’s hospital, which is run by the Vatican.

Bertone himself is not under investigation, but officials are examining the conduct of the hospital’s former chairman, Giuseppe Profiti, and its former finance chief, Massimo Spina, a Vatican spokesman said.

The probe follows revelations by investigative journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, who is one of two reporters currently on trial in a Vatican court for obtaining classified documents that provide evidence of waste, irregularities and extravagance in the Holy See’s finances. The controversial trial is currently suspended due to the ill health of one of the three Vatican officials charged alongside the journalists. Press freedom bodies have attacked the Vatican for prosecuting journalists whose revelations have been shown to have been in the interest of the Church and its followers.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis announced new rules for the naming of saints after Fittipaldi and his co-accused Gianluigi Nuzzi revealed how the current system could be abused to generate large profits for private companies connected to the Vatican.

The revelations by journalists also highlight how flats like the one occupied by Bertone are frequently let out at peppercorn rents with no system in place to decide on what basis they should be allocated.

The cardinal’s apartment is frequently described as being nearly 700 square metres (7,500 square feet) in size. He insists it is less than half that and has stressed that he shares it with the three nuns who look after him, and his private secretary.


Cardinal Bertone is nearly 80 years old and yet he is spending 200,000 on his retirement pad.

Does he think he is going to live forever?

Has he no fear of God at all - spending 200,000 of money donated for sick children.

Can such a man even believe in God?

Why does 1 man need 3 nuns to look after him?

Why does 1 man need a 7,000 square foot residence?

Why does a retired man need a private secretary?

And if Pope Francis is probing a 200,000 spend on a Vatican apartment I wonder what he would think of Bishop Noel Treanor spending 1- 4 million pounds on his house?

He lives in a renovated 15,000 square foot house on his own? That's twice the size of Bertone's apartment - with no nuns and no secretary. His staff have a bigger house next door. 

Maybe someone needs to write to Francis about Down and Connor?


  1. Did the money for Noel Treanor's renovations come from diocesan funds? If it did, were lay Catholics made aware before they donated the money that it would be spent in this way? Does the diocese not publish accounts of its expenditure? If not, then why not, given that we live in an age of greater public accountability?

    1. Noel Treanor has not said how much his renovation cost and where exactly the money came from.

      He did say that there were "two private donors" for part of the funding.

      But even if there were millions to spare were there not more worthy causes that the renovation of a palace?

      Some bishops choose - as Pope Francis did - to live in a small apartment near their cathedral.

      I can't imagine Noel living in a flat on the Falls Road.

  2. Have the leaders of the Catholic Church not learned that the laity are no longer dull,stupid,thick and ignorant like the hierarchy believed our previous generations to be?
    I come from a family of seven. Our late parents were both daily communicants. Not one of us attend church. A GP,a lawyer and two teachers are among our number. That should say volumes. In fact when my young sister passed away last year she had a civil celebrant who provided a memorable and meaningful funeral ceremony.
    The activities and arrogance of the church's leaders today shows they are slow learners.
    I know many other families in this area like ours in who have said enough is enough.

  3. Surely cardinal Bertone as a member of a religious order (Salesians) should have stepped back into the ranks along with his religious brothers when he retired. They have many residences in Rome and I am sure would have welcomed back their brother whom they had presumably "lent" to the Vatican. Presumably it was his choice to remain exclaustrated all be it in luxurios circumstances. He does have a vow of poverty whatever that means.
    Iggy O Donovan

    1. Iggy, I had forgotten that Bertone was a religious with a vow of poverty.

      His actions serve to mock those who keep their vows.


  4. There is joke among clergy here in Westminster the the members of the religious orders take a vow of poverty but it's the secular guys who live it !!

  5. I am an OAP with a state pension and my wife is disabled. She no longer attends Church because of what happened in a previous parish over 20 years ago. I believe that it is scripturally correct to tithe and last year together we tithed to our Catholic church the some of £2500:00 which is just over 11% of what we receive. The bible is quite clear that we shouldn't give into a dead thing, so this year I will not be giving the church a dime. We will be donating our 10% to some worthy cause this year and not to fund the lavish life style of those who have lost the ability to preach and live out the Gospel.

    1. Your generousity is most laudable and you are right to send your money to a better cause than you have been.

  6. Could I suggest they donate to Cushendall GAA as I understand they are short of a few bob. Watch this space for this one +Pat
    Water foot Willie

    1. WFW,

      I am aware of all the problems in Cushendall and have been for years.

      Please keep us informed.


  7. Would you think of tithing to The Oratory Society of Larne, and the bishop there Pat Buckley? Im sure he won't refuse. Talking of matters financial. Im not sure he has room to criticise anyone living in palatial surroundings as I seem to recall he is squatting in a rather large detached property owned and paid for by the Diocese of Down and Connor!

    1. You are right. I do live in a large detached house. I was sent here to live by the Bishop of Down and Connor Cahal Daly.

      When he unjustly sacked me in 1986 and took away my livelihood I had no where to go and felt that after serving the Church for 16 years I was entitled to a roof over my head.

      He had the option of evicting me - but at the time said: "You will never force me to send the RUC into Protestant Larne to evict you. I have learned the lessons of Irish history".

      For 30 years now I have ministered from this property - saying Mass and celebrating the sacraments for those other priests throw away from their doors.

      This house has been used for giving the homeless a bed, feeding the hungry, accommodating ex prisoners, detoxing drug addicts, ministering to the sick and the dying etc.

      How many other presbyteries in Down and Connor function like this?

      How many needy are taking care of in Bishop Treanor's palace?

      This house has also been the subject of a Belfast High Court - held in public - and I am not a "squatter".

      And "Anonymous" if you ever need a bed, a meal or any help you are welcome to come here 24 / 7.

    2. I am a Protestant from the Shankhill Road. Many years ago 5 of us who were homeless - all Protestants - 3 guys and 2 girls,arrived at Pat's door at 6am one morning. He have us breakfast and made us beds in the sitting room and dining room.We all stayed there until we were housed by the Housing Executive. One of the girls stayed there for a year and is now happily married in Larne with children. Pat's housekeeper left because she did not want us in the house. Pat said to her: "Its like this. You have a home and they do not. So you'll have to go".

      I had never been in a position to thank Pat properly but this Easter I was and I sent him a £100 donation.

      Pat never asked me for anything.

      You obviously do not know the man I know.


    3. What a remarkable story, Anon. at 18:19.

      D&C threw out a real gem when silly old "Cackle" Daly dismissed Pat Buckley all those years ago. And look what we have instead of Pat's gospel example: a rich mitred man living in a palace on Somerton Road.

    4. Dear Anonymous at 18:53

      I have never claimed to be a "gem". If I am a gem then I am one with many imperfections and impurities.

      I simply think that priest's should be everybody's brother or friend, that their door should be open 24/7 and that we should share all that we HAVE and ARE with others.

    5. Why should Tony's story at 18:19 seem "remarkable".

      I would expect any Christian and every priest to behave like Pat Buckley did with those young people.

    6. To Anon. at 19:05

      You seem to have taken offence because I described Tony's story as
      "remarkable". I did so for two reasons. First, because I have heard so many
      Catholics "slag off" Pat Buckley that I would never, from their prejudices, have expected him to behave in such a generous and merciful way; and
      secondly, given what is now publicly known about the behaviour of Catholic priests, I wouldn't have expected ANY of them to have behaved in
      such a Christ-like fashion.

      You said that you would expect "any Christian and every priest to behave like Pat Buckley did..." Really? Would you expect Noel Treanor to have opened first his heart and then his palatial home to the needy, as Pat
      Buckley did? Would you expect Cardinal Bertone to have done likewise? I don't wish to sound disrespectful to you, but your expectations are hardly
      grounded in reality.

      As for Pat Buckley, I apologise to you for not being more critical of the bigoted nonsense I heard about you from so-called "Catholics". ( By the way, Anon. at 19:05, would you have expected these judgemental Catholics as well to have behaved as Pat Buckley did?)

  8. My wife and I were out socially recently and the subject of our parish priest arose. Included in our company was the local primary school secretary who said that in two years he has been to the school twice,just before Christmas each year. When we all compared notes it seem that nobody ever sees him about. He appears at mass each day and then on Sunday. Apart from that he never seems to be around. My sister in law contacted him after calling the parochial house for a week about her mum who was in hospital.He told her the chaplain there would attend to her needs. He seems to be completely disinterested. He never appears at any parish activities or events in the parish hall. Useless.
    Co Down Parishoner

    1. Your story is sad. He seems to have lost his sense of vocation :-(

    2. I think their PP has no faith!

  9. Perhaps I should say I wasn't being critical of our PP as a person. He is a nice enough man, very personable. It's just that he's not at all involved in parish life.
    Co Down Parishoner

  10. Your PP must have been in the same ethics class in Maynooth as a couple of priests up here in the north Antrim area
    Dalriada Dick

  11. Far be it from me to defend Cardinal Bertone ! But....200 k, be it Euros or £, can easily be spent in renovating a house or large apartment, especially if there is electrical, plumbing, structural work to be done. I've just spent over £400k renovating a large house that needed substantial work doing to it. Large jobs require large sums, I'm afraid. So, I can easily see that in the middle of Rome it could easily be the case that Bertone has spent 200k on a large apartment.

    It's not the fact that he's spent so much on doing up an apartment that is surprising (as I've said, it's easily spent once you start !), but the fact that he is living in such a large and substantial apartment with a household of retainers around him that is surprising. Why ? He's supposed to be retired and saying his prayers in readiness for the after life, not holding court and having secretaries and flunkies attending to him. It's a hang over from the days when people like Bertone were considered Princes of the Church. Then they lived like princes. Nowadays, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes are servants and whilst they should live reasonably comfortably they should not be living like princes. The Pope is showing the way.

    I don't want Bertone et al to live as paupers, but I do want them to live in some reasonable comfort but simply. They should slim down their lives and live moderately. What that means in each country will be different. In Rome, a simple apartment, simply attired, with room for a couple of guests, and somebody who comes in for a few hours to do a bit of cleaning and a bit of cooking for a man in his 80s would seem reasonable.

    By the way, retired Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor probably lives in a 2 million £ house in Chelsea in his retirement. I tell belong to the Archdiocese, not to him personally. But, even a council flat in central London will set you back £1 million !

    1. All you say is reasonable.

      There is of course the question of the money for the renovation coming from hospital funds.

      Also, why does a retired cardinal have to live in expensive Chelsea?

    2. All you say is reasonable.

      There is of course the question of the money for the renovation coming from hospital funds.

      Also, why does a retired cardinal have to live in expensive Chelsea?

  12. che schifo. Il cardinalio needs a kickio in the holio to say the leastio