Corruption, abuse scandals, exit waves: The smallest country in the world is struggling with major problems. Vatican expert Ulrich Nersinger and ntv Italy correspondent Udo Gümpel discuss the weaknesses in the holy state.
The smallest country in the world is located in the middle of the Italian capital Rome: Vatican City consists of St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square, the Sistine Chapel and world-famous museums and gardens. Their churches and cultural treasures are concentrated in an area of only 0.44 square kilometers. Around 800 people live there. The most famous resident of the Vatican is Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The religious education of the 86-year-old is undisputed, but experts believe his business skills can be improved. "The last two popes don't have an overview when it comes to finances," says Vatican expert Ulrich Nersinger in the podcast "Wirtschaft Welt
A current example is the court case over a luxury property in London that the Vatican is said to have acquired for around 350 million euros. Basically, it is common practice for the Vatican to invest in real estate. It is part of the mini-state's investment strategy to generate income. However, there are also many allegations associated with the purchase of this property: embezzlement of funds, money laundering and fraud. For this, several accused, including for the first time a cardinal, have to answer in court. In the meantime, the Vatican has sold the property in question to the US financial investor Bain Capital at a loss of around 100 million euros. Even a holy state does not seem immune to corrupt and criminal practices.
As an ntv correspondent in Rome, Udo Gümpel observes this process very closely. Vatican officials enriched themselves with the help of obscure financial managers, he reports to "Wirtschaft Welt
Pope Paul VI was also not very competent in financial matters. in 1968: At that time he banned the Catholic faithful from artificial contraceptives, but overlooked the fact that the Vatican had invested in the German pharmaceutical company Schering and was therefore making money from the production of the birth control pill. The consequences: the nickname "Pill Paul" and a massive loss of credibility.
The latter is also a problem of the present: The treatment of the victims of the abuse scandals not only made many believers doubt the Catholic Church, but also led to a massive wave of resignations in Germany. Fewer church taxes here also mean less revenue for the Vatican. A good example of how closely credibility and financial data are linked.
One thing is clear to Vatican expert Udo Gümpel: "The Pope's only weapon is his moral authority." It is important to preserve it for the future. Because with economic competence, as Nersinger expects, the head of state of the last absolute monarchy in Europe will probably not score points in 2024 either.