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Pope's visit to Fatima a reminder of Nazi Gold
I don't want to take anything away from Pope Francis's visit to Fatima and the canonization of new saints, but I hope that someone might remind the Pontiff about Fatima and Nazi gold that I write about in God's Bankers - A History of Money and Power at the Vatican. It is a good reason for the Pope to reconsider his decision not to release the Vatican's files on World War II and the Holocaust.
This is from my book:
"The church did not even budge when newly declassified American documents revealed that priests at the Portuguese Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where hundreds of thousands of the Catholic faithful make an annual pilgrimage, had hidden 110 pounds of Nazi gold. Each bar had been stamped with a swastika and the words Preußen Staatsmünze— Berlin— 1942 (the Prussian State Mint in Berlin). They were smelted from gold stolen from Dutch Jews (the 2014 equivalent of $ 2.8 million). The Fatima clerics had stored their Nazi gold in safe deposit boxes at a local bank. The church’s initial response to the news was silence. A Portuguese bishop, Januário Torgal Ferreira, tried to shift the blame when he told local reporters that while the Fatima gold “had a savage past” it was “money [that] is the true devil.”
The Vatican, on background only, assured reporters that whatever happened with the Nazi gold at Fatima, none of the swastika-emblazoned bars had found their way to the Vatican Bank. The Fatima bishops tried quelling the story by announcing they had sold all their Third Reich bullion a decade earlier to pay for an expansion of the shrine’s sanctuary. There were no records since the bank was out of business. In response to an outcry from Holocaust survivors and the World Jewish Congress, the bishop of Leiria promised to donate some unspecified amount of money to “social causes in order to purify the memory of those Nazi ingots.” (The author has not been able to confirm what, if any, contribution the local church made.)"