Gotti Tedeschi’s dismissal has backfired big time

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi

ETTORE GOTTI TEDESCHI

The method used to get rid of the Vatican bank’s former head have created an image of the Vatican divided by power struggles

ANDREA TORNIELLI
VATICAN CITY

Looking back at the flurry of events that have shaken the Vatican in recent weeks and the recent developments in the case of the Vatican bank’s former director, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, one had to admit that the Vatican could not have chosen a worse time to get rid of him. The banker’s dismissal – which was decided by the supervisory council, a board of laymen made up of a German, Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, an American, Carl Anderson (the Knights of Columbus leader), an Italian, Antonio Maria Marocco and a Spaniard, Manuel Sotoserrano – was announced the day after Benedict XVI’s butler was arrested on charges of possessing confidential documents he was not authorised to.

The Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, had tried to mediate to remedy the rift within the Vatican bank (IOR), but in the end, the board of laymen decided to proceed anyway. In terms of media strategy, the decision to “dismiss” Gotti Tedeschi with such a harsh document that destroyed him both morally and professionally, which led to believe that he was also implicated in the document leak by Vatican poison pen letter writers, was not a wise one. Carl Anderson’s letter (which listed nine reasons for the no-confidence vote) was intended as an official response to the explanation Gotti Tedeschi had leaked beforehand, linking his abrupt removal to clashes over the anti-money laundering laws in force and the rescue of Milan’s Saint Raffaele hospital. That the IOR should intervene to explain the reasons for the no-confidence vote in Gotti Tedeschi was perfectly understandable. What was not was the fact that they did this by publishing an excessively harsh document, written in a style that was nothing like that typically used by the Holy See.

Gotti Tedeschi took a day or so to write a memorial which he planned to deliver to the Pope. His version of events is corroborated by letters, e-mails and other documents. As he left his house on Tuesday 5 June to go to Rome, the banker was stopped by Italian military police that had been sent by the Public Prosecution in Naples to search his home in connection with a corruption probe into defence technology group Finmeccanica. The Vatican bank letters were found and confiscated by the judges, who got the Public Prosecution in Rome involved. The result of all this was that the memorial that had been prepared for the Pope, ended up in someone else’s hands.

It is not known how explosive the banker’s reconstruction of events could be. What is certain, is that Gotti Tedeschi’s dismissal and especially the way in which took place has been grossly self-defeating. Once upon a time, an arrangement would have been reached and if this was not possible, then the possibility of an honourable exit would have been looked into. The Gotti Tedeschi saga may have no link whatsoever with the poison pen letter writer scandal and the no-confidence vote in Gotti Tedeschi could nothing to do with the clash of opinions on the anti-money laundering laws and Saint Raffaele hospital. But the end result is the exact opposite.

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