Coded Messages

Nino Lo Bello, The Vatican Empire, “The Vatican’s Expenses XI:”

Unknown to most people, even regular listeners to Vatican Radio, is the fact that during the early morning hours of each day the office of the Vatican’s secretary of state broadcasts messages—some of them in code—to priests, nuncios, apostolic delegates, and cardinals in all parts of the world. Each Church dignitary knows about what time to expect special announcements pertaining to his region. He also receives coded signals from the Vatican to remind him of the “date” he has with his receiver.

In contrast with other stations, Vatican Radio often communicates private messages that will not be understood by anyone but the papal representative for whom they are intended. One might, for instance, hear something like this: “Father Tizio, with reference to the information in your letter of the eighth of September, re the peasant woman who sees visions of the Virgin Mary, we have considered your suggestion, but suggest that ad captandum vulgus. . . .”

Several years ago, when N.B.C. correspondent Irving R. Levine visited the station and was told that there was such a daily transmission to the United States, he asked in jest, “Is that when Cardinal Spellman gets his orders from the Vatican?”

The staff member who was acting as Levine’s guide replied with a grin, “No, sir, it’s just the other way around!”

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An Opening to the Left

Nino Lo Bello, The Vatican Empire, “The Vatican in Politics X:”

The Vatican’s role during this period merits review. If the Vatican had not wanted its Christian Democratic party to work with the left-wing, Marxist politicians, then there would never have been an “opening to the left” in Italian politics; as members of a Catholic party, the democristiani were obliged to maintain their Vatican- approved principles, but the first law of all successful politicians is to retain a position of power. The apertura a sinistra became possible, thanks to a change of climate within the Vatican itself. Much of the change was attributable to Pope John XXIII, whose policies were in strong contrast to the stiffly anti-Communist ones of his predecessor, Pius XII.

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It Alternately Poses

Nino Lo Bello, The Vatican Empire, “The Vatican in Politics X:”

The Vatican does not directly control the Christian Democrats, who are popularly known among the Italian people as democristiani, and also as i preti—literally, the priests. It does not give instructions to its men—but it doesn’t have to. It does not express opinions on given political issues—but the party leadership is always aware of the Vatican’s views. Ostensibly, Italy’s is a secular government, but the rules of conduct are formulated by the Vatican. For this reason, the Vatican has allowed only trusted practicing Catholics who will do the Church’s bidding to rise to the top political jobs in Italy.

One might ask whether the success of the Vatican in Italian politics can be attributed to the merging of its secular and spiritual qualities. The answer is indeed in the affirmative. The Vatican alternately poses as a church and as a political force, depending upon which pose will prove more advantageous at the moment. At the lower levels, through the local congregations, the Church presents itself as a religious organization and wins support by religious appeals to its followers; often these appeals influence voters. At the higher levels the Church becomes increasingly a political organization and, indirectly, exerts a controlling influence over the affairs of the Italian state. The Church’s chief instrument has been the democristi-ani, an army of faithful Christian Democratic politicians that has obviated the Vatican’s need for maintaining powerful lobbies. Italy’s postwar political history is intimately tied to i preti, under whom Italy has been carefully guided to its present position in the world of nations.

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No More Sinful Than The Collecting Of Coins

Nino Lo Bello, The Vatican Empire, “There’s No Business Like Vatican Business VIII:”

The foregoing details provide an uncomfortably sharp realization that the Vatican and its men have indeed carved a niche for their firm in the world of big business.

This is no small accomplishment. After years of soul- searching, it has been decided, infallibly, that the accumulation of money is no more reprehensible, no more sinful, than the collecting of coins. True, the Vatican pays ad perpetuum lip service to poverty. But it doesn’t practice it.

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