Class struggle in the Vatican

20 September 2013

Class struggle in the Vatican

Ronald van RaakRonald van Raak •

Marx speaks out against capital. Corruption of the Curia and the dubious dealings of the Vatican bank must be addressed. This isn’t Karl Marx, however, but Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and one of the most important advisors to Pope Francis. Last week Marx questioned why the Vatican had any need of a bank at all, thereby adding his voice to that of the pope, who in May spoke out against the ‘cult of money’ and the ‘invisible tyranny’ of the financial markets.

Since his investiture the pope has chosen to wear simple clothing (no golden ring) and to live in a modest apartment in a guest house, and to use equally modest transport, an old Renault 4. In a symbolic fashion he is attempting to distance himself from the princely life of the Vatican. This is more than symbolic: pride and wealth are, according to Pope Francis - mindful of his name – in conflict with the principles of Christendom. This pope has said that ‘spiritual worldliness’ is a danger, even the greatest danger, for the church.

The Vatican bank stands outside any form of international surveillance and plays a dubious role in the financial world. It won’t be much longer before we learn how this banker stands in relation to bent politicians, corrupt business people and the mafia. The last pope was not retired for nothing and it was not for nothing that this new pope was elected: an enthusiastic outsider who must be seen to put the genie of greed back into the bottle.

While elsewhere in Europe banks have gone back once again to their old trusted ways and financial institutions have learnt nothing from the crisis, it seems that in the most closed state in Europe the most closed financial bulwark has been forced open. In this, not only financial, but above all moral arguments play a role: the market as a threat to the moral, money as an idol which leads us into greed and deceit. The church is a centuries-old institution, which appears repeatedly to have access to miraculous resilience. I am curious to see the outcome of the struggle now taking place in the Vatican.

This column first appeared in the original Dutch on the website The Post Online. Ronald van Raak is a Member of Parliament for the SP.

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