Subtitled ‘A history of money and power at the Vatican’, God’s Bankers is an up to date look at the secretive worlds of the Vatican hierarchy, high finance, and how these worlds have intersected over time. The author uses interviews, historical documents, information obtained through Wikileaks and other ‘leaks’ to draw an extremely disturbing picture of corruption at the highest levels in the Catholic Church.
I remember reading David Yallop’s book called In God’s Name about 20 years ago, and although I didn’t really understand the implications of it at the time, the (possible) murder of a pope was a huge thing. And that is where this book largely begins its story – with the death of Pope John Paul I, and the possible conspiracy behind it. While many conspiracy theories require one to examine the world of ‘what if’ with a somewhat non-critical eye, God’s Bankers presents the story in an extremely believable, and well-sourced way.
It seems inconceivable to me that we live in a world of modernity and technology, and yet there are still organisations and countries which believed that they existed outside the reach of the law, and examination through the media. In this book, the author tries to peel back some of the layers of secrecy which have been used to cover up everything from child abuse through to financial crimes. This book pulls no punches, and really goes hard on a lot of topics that would probably make Catholics feel uncomfortable.
One thing I found particularly interesting was the public image, or persona of a number of the popes, as compared to their actual policies. When I was growing up the pope had always been John Paul II, who I think was largely seen as a benevolent populist, but it seems from reading this book that there was still an underlying conservatism.
As a non-religious person, there is always a temptation to jump on the bandwagon of church-bashing books, due to a kind of confirmation bias. However, the evidence – at least as presented here – seems to be unequivocal, and undeniable.