"The Pope of the Poor Church"
Messina Sicily, Italy
(Brother Antonio But& of Messina, Sicily, Italy, the author of this article, is a faithful Christian and an able, diligent preacher of Christ. He has been fully supported in his work in his homeland by the Pruett and Lobbit Church of Christ in Baytown, Texas for nineteen years. He is the capable editor of a bi-monthly, religious journal, Risveglio, which circulates throughout Italy and many countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The following article was published by him in Risveglio and was the occasion of a complaint being issued against him by some Roman Catholic, probably a priest.' He was called before the authorities and successfully defended the facts which it contains. Because Brother Buta's English, while good, might be somewhat difficult to understand by the average reader of Truth Magazine, I have edited the article with the view to making it conform to the way our readers would normally express themselves. I have been scrupulously careful not to alter the significance of anything said by Brother Buta and sincerely hope that I have been successful in this regard. Brother Buta is a well educated, cultured, and talented gentleman of deep convictions and unbounded courage. We salute him for this excellent article. We trust our readers will enjoy it. James W. Adams.)
This article is a consideration of the practical and social doctrine of Paul VI, who professes to be "the pope of the poor church," and an expose of the luxury, waste of money, and unlawful financial operations while human rights are being trampled. Last June 29, Paul V1 celebrated his name-day and the eighth anniversary of his election as pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Naturally, the celebration was in tune with the celebrated person, who on several occasions has affirmed his church to be "the church of poor men."
After hearing the discourses of Paul VI, it would appear blasphemous and sacrilegious to Roman Catholics to hear one affirm that the Roman Catholic Church is rich and its pope very rich. According to the pope and his authoritative newspaper, "The Roman Observer," the outstanding characteristic of the Roman Catholic Church is its poverty. Despite these official assertions to the contrary, the suspicion of Catholic wealth is neither unwarranted nor blasphemous if one just looks, not at the many bad Vatican actions, but only at a few realities which exist before our very eyes, though they are studiously ignored by papal and conciliar papers.
One of these realities, the last in order of time, in a triumphal way, was the celebration of pope Montini's name-day and anniversary. On June 30th, after five year's work, the big reception room for pontifical audiences was opened. This room cost $25,000,000.00 (twenty-five million dollars). (Brother Buta wrote this using "millards," 15 millards to be exact. Checking my dictionary, I found a millard to be one billion. Allowing 600 lire per dollar which is approximately the present value, I arrived at the 25 million figures. I hope this is correct. JWA) A new-papal paper affirmed incorrectly that it cost 12 million ($12,000,000.00) dollars. Putting together the price of this reception room and that one of the hanging garden which the pope built some years ago, perhaps it is not sacrilegious after all to speak of a very rich and nabob pope.
Who does not remember the elaborate speech of Paul VI and the telegram that he sent the Mayor of Rome in which he pleaded the cause of Roman people who live in barracks? At that time everyone applauded the pope's humanitarian interference. Perhaps now there will echo in this new great reception room, new and more touching social warnings with fervent sermons about the poverty and social concern of the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church. But who will note the vanity and hypocrisy of such words resounding in a room so completely unfit to echo sentiments concerning economic justice?
The Roman Observer of June 22, debating about the existence of Catholic sociology (social concern JWA), said, among other things, that the reasonable and Christian distribution of goods must be "without simulations, without luxury, without vices, without lust." This was well said, but judging by the cost of the reception room, we say the Catholic Church is the least fit to speak of reasonable distribution of wealth, of poverty, and of the church of poor men. We consulted an architect with reference to how many flats of three rooms and services could be constructed with the twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000.00) which the reception room cost. His answer was: "One thousand five hundred (1,500) flats."
Question: Could not the humanitarian Dr. Montini assign this amount of money to the Roman people who live in barracks in Rome? The amount of money we have been discussing does not take into account the operating expense of the reception room. Barring accidents in operation and maintenance, the operation of the reception room will cost three thousand three hundred dollars 43,300.00) for every audience-day. During the year, this will total something in the neighborhood of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00). It is a thing to compare with Pharaoh's pyramid. Dear Dr. Montini projects a public image of himself sad, weeping, and much distressed by reason of his social anxiety over the state of the poor even as he seeks personal satisfaction in a triumphal way, and hang the expense. For the poor of Rome who live in huts it is sufficient for Dr. Montini to send an energetic telegraphic message to the Mayor of Rome. This saves face ... above all cash.
Wealth and Discharges
But this is not all; let us pluck the evil flower by flower. We ask this "pope of poor men" what he plans to do for about two hundred (200) employees of Catholic Action. The General Presidency with Jesuitical tactics is exercising a capillary work of coercion upon these people to compel them to resign willingly. After long years of service on all but starvation salaries, these employees are offered, provided they go away, a dish of lentils. The Catholic Action demobilizes. It is an old worn-out organism, and while it was "the apple of the eyes" of the previous pope, to Dr. Montini it is useless, cumbersome machinery, so everything has to be eliminated. For those 'employees, who for thirty-four years worked like donkeys to secure prestige, glory, and money for the holy See, there is no money; they are simply liquidated. The plea that the Vatican is poor is the usual hypocritical, dirty solution.
However, the Catholic Action disposes of goods for millards that Vatican confiscated. (Brother Buta refers to millards of lire, I feel certain. A millard equals a billion. If it takes 600 lire to make an American dollar, we could substitute millions of dollars for his 64 millards" and get his point. JWA) Soon after the war, a subscription was raised among the adherents of Catholic Action into which Vatican put nothing of its own. The Villa Carpegna in Rome was bought with the proceeds. Now in a wing of this villa, big buildings of immense value are under construction, and they belong to Vatican. At the same time, Catholic Action is in poverty. Is it not deplorable mendacity to spend millions to build while not paying the poor employees of Catholic Action? What about the immense value of this property? Dr. Montini moralizes from his pulpit with social documents such as the encyclic "Populorurn Progressio," but he does not feel shame at turning many families out of house and home while he builds reception rooms, hanging gardens and buildings.
Let us continue lest we become intoxicated in gleaning among these flowers of evil. Recently, Vatican created a new central organism for the coordination of the charitable activity in the church. Usually, when we make insinuations concerning the wealth of the Catholic Church, priests answer, "Yes, money enters Vatican but it is not sufficient because the great heart of the pope is like a seaport: ships go in and go out to carry everywhere the fatherly pontific charity."
We have always entertained some doubts concerning this papal charity, but now, the underhanded activities of immense charitable institutions such as the Caritas Internationalis confirm the fact that our many doubts not only were but are well-grounded. Reality is more and more shocking.
We are not interested in the personal quarrels between the president of this organization and the Substitute of the State Secretary, Mons. Benelli. However, it is necessary to note the causes of the dissension in the worship to the Vatican's true God, Mammon. During the tragic war between Biafras and Nigeria, Caritas Internationalis printed banknotes, which circulated freely in Biafras. The planes that carried helps and medicines also carried boxes of counterfeit banknotes.
At the end of the conflict, in order to elicit the sympathies of the winner (whenever it sided with the defeated), Vatican laid the responsibility for the filthy financial affair on the president of the Caritas, Mons. Bayer. In this scandalous affair, there was an assignment of millards of pounds sterling printed by the enterprising Vatican prelates, and while they and their followers gave printed paper, in exchange, they accepted only authentic dollars. While the Caritas with the permission of the Secretary of State performed these operations, Vatican and the beneficent collateral associations carried on in the world a money collecting campaign for Biafras. As a diabolic technique, this is not bad! Mammon's sons are worthy of their father.
Meanwhile, in Vatican, money from every part of the world poured in, and Vatican kept a percentage of that which was received. This was done on the basis of a moral principle of Catholic theology called "secret compensation."
What is the law of "secret compensation?" It is a kind of peculation or embezzlement, one of the many examples of "moral theology" conceived by the moralists to ease their consciences and to serve as a basis for forgiving one another their innumerable, dirty practices by which their hands are soiled in the handling of money. On the basis of this principle, the major part of the offerings could be subtracted as "secret compensation" and only a trifling part of the total offering actually arrive at the destination for which it was intended by its contributors. A classic example of this was the collection by the Catholic bishops for the benefit of the Sicilian people who were struck by the earthquake. About this, we could tell many things, however, we only say that, by Vatican order, from the collected amounts, there were deducted about sixty-seven (67) millions of dollars. This money was then channeled into ACLI (Catholic political syndicate). We can say the same thing concerning the collections for India and for Pakistan.
Now, will someone come and tell us the Catholic Church is poor? With Biafran money, secret compensation and various amounts deducted, the pope of poor men can build not only a big hanging garden or a reception room valued at millions, but some other little things. He can also afford a crazy expense such as that involved in sending a telegram to Rome's mayor in the interest of the people who are living in barracks in Rome. A poor pope can spend a dollar, too.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The above photograph of Brother Buta is one made of him while casually dressed during his visit to this country during the Spring of 1971.)
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 14, pp. 8-11