Amidst the preparation for Christmas and struggling with the Vatican’s questionable financial activities, the Vatican has found time to offer “faith consistent” investment advice. According to the CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE, “No investment of money is morally neutral; “either God’s kingdom is being advanced by the assets we deploy, or it is being neglected and undermined,” said a new Vatican document. To help Catholic institutions and individuals invest in a way consistent with the values of their faith, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences published a document, “Mensuram Bonam” (For Good Measure) Nov. 25. Mensuram Bonam (For Good Measure) refers to the Biblical passage “For the measure you use will be measured back to you”. It is also related to the Rabbinic concept of "measure for measure", which looks to an essential balance. Using the principles of Catholic social teaching and definitive church pronouncements on issues such as abortion, nuclear weapons and the death penalty, the document calls on bishops’ conferences and other Catholic investors to develop investment criteria that are consistent with the Catholic tradition and inspired by “a solidarity-based commitment” to promote not only needed financial returns, “but also human dignity, care for creation and inclusive growth through united action bound by love”. . . “No human domain or experience, including investing, is outside of God’s care, or beyond reach of God’s grace,” the document said, so people are called to be open to God’s grace as they discern the true value of things and make decisions about what investments to support. While asking bishops’ conferences, religious orders and Catholic institutions to develop their own strategies, the document said that “the commitment to greater alignment between the management of assets and the broader mission of the church should be further enhanced through cooperation between Catholic asset owners at a national and international level, including Vatican and Holy See entities”. . . “Faith-consistent investing” has elements found in “socially responsible investing,” strategies focused on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and “impact investing,” which aims to promote a particular good or set of goods. But, the document said, faith-consistent investing “goes much further in terms of moral responsibility” because it is based on Catholic social teaching with its “vision of the human person, his/her integral development and vocation in relationship with God, with other persons and with creation.”
This advice provides a sharp contrast to the growing financial scandal which is rocking the Roman Church. Again, according to CNS, The Vatican’s sprawling megatrial addressing alleged financial mismanagement and corruption among its top officials encountered a new hurdle Thursday (Dec. 1) as the credibility of a key prosecution witness, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, was thrown into question by new information from an unexpected source. On Wednesday, the Vatican’s chief prosecutor, Alessandro Diddi, told the Vatican tribunal overseeing the trial that he had received information that the monsignor had been manipulated into making statements in the case. By the time Thursday’s court session began, an Italian news outlet had revealed that the information had come from Genevieve Ciferri, a friend of Perlasca’s, who had written to the prosecutor over the weekend. Ciferri claimed that Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, a former economic official at the Vatican, had prompted Perlasca in his pretrial statements to investigators. Perlasca headed the administrative office of the powerful Secretariat of State in 2018, when funds earmarked for the pope’s charitable works were invested in high-end London real estate, a deal that prosecutors claim lost the church more than 20 million euros. Originally considered a target of the investigation into the purchase, he became a prosecution witness, supplying testimony particularly damning for his former superior, Cardinal Angelo Becciu. When Perlasca testified last week, defense lawyers highlighted what they said were inconsistencies in his story, and the monsignor often said he could not remember many of the events at the heart of the trial. At several points during the cross-examination, Vatican judge Giuseppe Pignatone warned Perlasca that he risked perjuring himself. The monsignor struggled especially to remember details regarding his written testimony to Vatican prosecutors. Ciferri told Vatican prosecutors in documents sent to Diddi’s phone that she told Perlasca what to write in his testimony, and that she in turn was following Chaouqui’s instructions. Ciferri offered ample evidence of her claims in the form of text messages and audio recordings. She said Perlasca did not know that Chaouqui was behind the instructions.
Following the instructions, Perlasca told the judges on Wednesday, he invited Becciu for dinner at a restaurant in Rome where he secretly recorded the cardinal while asking him questions about the trial case. Perlasca allegedly handed over the recording and transcript of the conversation to Vatican prosecutors.
While this scandal grows ever deeper and is coming close to involving Pope Francis, perhaps our religious leaders in the Vatican might do well to read the Gospel lesson, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). These interactions do not seem to be consistent with the faith of Roman Catholicism. Perhaps these leaders would do well to follow their own advice.