‘ God’s Bankers’ by Gerald Posner

Book review by Damon Linker

“Popes of this period — Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI — publicly denounced lending money at interest (usury) while at the same time accepting massive loans from the Rothschilds and making their own interest-bearing loans to Italian Catholics. Beginning with ­Bernardino Nogara, appointed by Pius XI in 1929, the church also empowered a series of often shady financial advisers to engage in financial wheeling and dealing around the globe. “So long as the balance sheets showed surpluses,” Posner writes, “Pius and his chief advisers were pleased.” That pattern would continue through the rest of the 20th century.”

Ask a devout, theologically literate ­Roman Catholic to describe the institution of the church, and you’re likely to be told that it was founded by Jesus Christ at the moment he gave his disciple ­Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” and vowed that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” This made ­Peter the head of the universal church, ­empowered to administer the sacraments, spread the Gospel, save souls and forgive sins until Christ’s return, as well as to pronounce with infallible authority on ­matters of Christian faith and morals. Christ also promised Peter that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church — meaning that no matter how corrupt the institution might appear at any given moment of history, it will never be so consumed by evil that it ceases to be capable of fulfilling its God-appointed tasks.

Ask an informed historian or journalist about the history of the church — especially the Vatican and the papacy — and you are likely to hear a different story. On this telling, the church from the beginning has been an all-too-human institution that ­often follows a logic of self-interest, placing the good of its members ahead of those outside it, and the good of those in positions of ecclesiastical power ahead of the good of everyone else. To a greater or lesser extent, this has been true of most institutions throughout history, though it has been a particular problem in the 2,000-year history of the church, with its lack of democratic accountability and deep roots in the corruption-prone political culture of the Italian peninsula. The result has been a tension — and sometimes a blatant contradiction — between the church’s exalted claims for itself and its behavior. Click link below for full article;

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/books/review/gods-bankers-by-gerald-posner.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-middle-span-region&region=c-column-middle-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-middle-span-region

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