Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Edward is the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published by Ignatius Press. Follow him on Twitter @edwardpentin
A largely undetected, anti-Catholic “gnosis” (knowledge of spiritual mysteries) is pervading many areas of life, destroying Christian values that have been the bedrock of Western civilization for millennia. This is the thesis put forward by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, former president of the Vatican Bank, financier, economist and visiting professor of economics at three universities.
It also appears in a new book interview with the economist called Un Mestiere del Diavolo (“A Job of the Devil”).
In this email interview with the Register, the Italian professor elaborates on what he means by “gnosis,” discusses what he means when he says "the devil has retired", and expresses his support and reservations about Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si.
He also discusses his sudden departure as president of the Vatican Bank in 2012. The institution’s board issued a vote of no confidence in him, saying he was not up to the job; he has always maintained his dismissal was due to the reforms he was enacting to clean up the bank, in particular his demand for information on nonreligious accounts.
You have a new book-length interview coming out — Un Mestiere del Diavolo. Why did you wish to publish such a book, and what main issues do you raise in it?
I thought of writing this book in order to create (in a simple and provocative way) interest in rediscovering “gnosis”: its aspirations, the tools it uses and its responsibility in the destruction of the values that are the foundation of our culture and civilization. Gnosis is much more than a “philosophy.” It is the true spirit of anti-Catholicism, which denies and contradicts Genesis. And it is operational — highly operational — in cultures, in ideas, in the actions of men. It’s necessary to reflect on whether it is correct to explain the collapse of our civilization’s values through evolving causes, considered natural, rational, scientific, rather than by trying to find out if they are not all attributable to a convitato di pietra [threatening presence] that never appears: the evil which operates in man, tempting, corrupting and confusing him. This era will either be the end of man created by God, or it could become the era of the rediscovery of God. This little book could be a contribution.
It’s often said that the devil is more active than ever in the world, but in a recent interview, you said, “The devil has retired.” What did you mean by this?
The devil, in his work of corrupting man and destroying the values of creation and the law which regulates it, has had such great success that he hasn’t got much more to do… This is even worrying the secular world, which has an aversion to the Catholic religion but is now realizing that without Catholic morality, the resulting disorder will be dangerous even for those who do not believe in God. Not only has the devil managed to confuse sins, but he has been able to make natural laws seem unnatural (What is nature? Who created it?). Even man’s recognition of the dignity of man is confused, self-destructive. He’s seen now as an intelligent animal, the fruit of evolution, of a bacillus and, therefore, satisfied only materially (denying his intellectual needs, truth and the spiritual). In practice, the devil now has many apostles in all fields that he can retire and draw a pension.
You’ve spoken of great evil in the Vatican as well as great good — and many saints working there. Could you explain more about this, especially as we’ve heard a great deal about Vatileaks, financial malfeasance and other problems? What exactly is going on in the Vatican, in your view, and how should it be reformed?
I have the impression that Blessed [Antonio] Rosmini’s famous “five wounds of the holy Church” will be tripled by extension. According to Pope Francis, they have become as many as 15 (the Roman Curia diseases). The “smoke of Satan” and its equivalent in the Vatican has been mentioned by the popes themselves (from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI).
Some are concerned about a perceived prevailing confusion during this pontificate. What are your views on this and this pontificate in general?
I belong to a generation that has, unfortunately, experienced the aftermath of Vatican II and had always hoped that our words would be “Yes, yes; no, no.” I am convinced that [confusion] was the work of “the evil one.” But I am also certain, without wavering, of the work and assistance of the Paraclete to the Church and to the Pope, so I continue to pray for the Pope, as he [Francis] himself urges.
What do you think the Holy Father means when he says he wants a “poor Church for the poor”?
Certainly, for me, it is difficult to understand what is meant to desire a “poor Church.” This is because, being the Church, “poor” would mean that the Church is not doing its mission — because it wouldn’t generate indispensable resources for the work of evangelization. Similarly, I cannot share the idea that “the economy kills,” as the economy is only an instrument and in itself neutral. It is its misuse that creates the conditions that cause harm. In fact, Benedict XVI, in the conclusion of Caritas in Veritate, says that when things do not work, it’s not the tools that have to be changed, but the man who uses them. Certainly, for me, the environmental problem is not resolved by the theses proposed by neo-Malthusian environmentalists, who are the ones who have created, and now offer, the solutions that will hurt man even further, lowering his dignity ever more. For me, it is, instead, very clear that the source of all misery, whether material, social, psychological, etc., is the moral misery. And this must be won first, because the Truth is above freedom and isn’t a result of dialogue — it is its premise. Therefore, I believe that, today, in this context of widespread moral decay, rather than consoling, the Church must be [a] teacher. But who am I to say that?
You say you’ve not always forgiven those who ousted you as president of the Vatican Bank. Why is that? Without going into too much detail, what actually happened?
You would like to know what happened? You know that no one in the Church has wanted to know what happened, despite my countless proposals and invitations, for the good of the Church. I know for sure (for the large part) that the pope emeritus decided to steadily rehabilitate me, but he was disobeyed. Vatican officials ignored my pleas to listen to me so that I could explain what happened: the falsity of motives and defamatory procedures used to take away [my] credibility.
But there are many holy men in the Church. Thanks to some members of the cardinal commission concerning vigilance of Vatican finances, the artificial vote of confidence against me was denied ratification for nine months, and my successor was appointed only after the resignation of Benedict XVI and the commission was changed. [The] mysteries surrounding my dismissal are disturbing and leave an open wound in the history of this period, because the Church cannot not want to know the truth by listening to each protagonist in a story of this importance, nor can it ignore the will of a pope like Benedict.
How is Vatican financial reform proceeding, in your view? To what extent have the anti-money-laundering reforms you implemented been followed through?
I cannot know; I can only deduce what has happened by reading the newspapers and interpreting the news. To achieve the necessary reforms, which I had commissioned (in 2010), three things need to be done: an appropriate law, procedures to allow its application and the establishment of a supervisory authority to ensure these applications. The supervisory authority is the key to understanding this. Who chairs it, who comprises it and how it operates is the key to answering your question. But whether those who report to the Pope, putting him in a position to understand a very complex matter and consequently make decisions, ask your question — I’m afraid (I repeat, I’m afraid) not. Otherwise, a person as decisive as Pope Bergoglio would have made decisions.
You have reservations about Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (The Care for Our Common Home). What is your main problem with it?
To understand the “environmentalist” problem, one must have studied and understood well the last 50 years. The neo-Malthusian environmentalism [man is the enemy of the environment; population control is needed] these days is pure gnosis — it is a “quasi-religion” that denies Genesis. I have expressed reservations about the encyclical — you can read my articles on the subject — where I have tried to analyze it. I explain why it confuses causes with effects and note that it has not analyzed the Malthusian-environmentalist phenomenon from the ’70s that is the cause not only of the ongoing economic crisis, but also the same environmental problems due to the obligatory hyper-consumerism in the Western world (necessary to compensate for a growth in GDP that would have collapsed due to the collapse in the birthrate, imposed by cultural-neo-Malthusian environmentalists), as well as production relocation (to have cheaper goods and to consume more) in Asia, which is necessarily less “attentive” to the environmental problem, with a high level of production. But have the “consumerism” phenomenon from the 1980s to 2010 and its causes been properly understood?
From the point of view of the magisterium of the Church, the encyclical is beyond reproach. It affirms that environmental degradation is a result of such morality and that to resolve this degradation it is man who has to change — and this is the task of the Church. Perfect. Between the lines, but perfect.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that, for man today, in order to understand what’s going on around him, it is essential to understand what gnosis is and how it acts. If one refuses to tackle this issue, it will be impossible to understand and cope with the collapse of values we are living through. This applies to understanding why, for example, laws (ethics) are imposed to knowing if a “Catholic” party can react, and if it is feasible or not. But also, it helps in interpreting the thought and the influence of the Church in world government.