Vatican banker Archbishop Marcinkus dead at 84

Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the American-born prelate whose leadership of the Vatican bank was marred by international scandal, died earlier this week.

Catholic World News reports that Marcinkus, who was originally a priest of the Chicago archdiocese, had served as organiser for papal trips and secretary of the government of the Vatican city-state in the 1970s. But his greatest public exposure came through his role at the head of the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican's own bank. The US archbishop was persuaded to invest Vatican funds in the Banco Ambrosiano, and to led the support of the Vatican to financial schemes which were eventually exposed as fraudulent.

In 1982, the unraveling of the fraud caused the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, and the Vatican was eventually forced to pay $A329 million in fines for the bank's involvement in the Ambrosiano schemes. In June 1982 the chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, Roberto Calvi, was founded hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London; British investigators now believe that Calvi - who had brought Archbishop Marcinkus into his financial empire - was killed on orders from the Mafia.

The Ambrosiano scandal led to a thorough reorganisation of the Vatican bank, which is now led by a lay professional rather than a cleric.

Archbishop Marcinkus, who was 84, was living in retirement in Arizona. He had a long history of cardiac trouble.

Archbishop Marcinkus, Vatican banker caught in scandal, dead at 84 (Catholic World News 21/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Paul Marcinkus (Wikipedia)

Scandal-hit Vatican banker dies (BBC 21/2/06)
"God's banker" Marcinkus dead: report (Reuters 21/2/06)
Death in the Village (Whispers in the Loggia 21/2/06)

22 Feb 2006