Paul Marcinkus

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Paul Marcinkus
Marcinkus retouch.jpg
Born Paul Casimir Marcinkus
January 15, 1922
Cicero, Illinois, U.S
Died February 20, 2006(2006-02-20) (aged 84)
Sun City, Arizona, U.S
Occupation Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church

Paul Marcinkus (January 15, 1922 – February 20, 2006) was an American archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church. He was best known for his tenure as President of the Vatican Bank from 1971 through 1989.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Marcinkus was born in Cicero, Illinois, the son of an immigrant window washer who arrived in Cicero in 1914. His father, Mykolas, had left Lithuania to escape possible induction into the Russian army. Moving to the United States, he briefly lived in Pittsburgh before moving to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to work for a cousin as a farm hand, then moving to Cicero after finding work in a Chicago steel mill. By the time his fourth son, Paulius, arrived, he had started washing windows for the Leo Sheridan Co., a job he would hold for thirty years.

After attending Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Paul was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 3, 1947, and served parish assignments with both St. Christina's and Holy Cross church on the city's far south side. By 1949, he had been appointed to the archdiocese's matrimonial tribunal, which processed applications to have marriages annulled.

International career[edit]

Marcinkus arrived in Rome in 1950 to study canon law at Gregorian University, and began to accept special assignments from the Vatican. Upon earning his degree in 1953, he was asked to stay with the Vatican on a full-time basis, and became friends with Giovanni Battista Montini, who would become Pope a decade later. Enrolling in the two-year diplomatic school, Marcinkus was assigned to Bolivia in 1955 and Canada four years later, serving as secretary in the Vatican nunciature in both instances. The titles were the equivalent of a secretary at a foreign embassy.

In December 1959, he returned to Rome to work in the office of the secretariat of state, by which time he had learned enough Italian to serve as an occasional interpreter for Pope John XXIII. With the ascension of Pope Paul VI to the papacy, Marcinkus became the prime English translator, also helping handle the arrangements for the pontiff's overseas trips. In addition, his height and muscular build enabled him to serve as a bodyguard for Paul VI, earning him the nickname, "The Gorilla."[citation needed]

On January 6, 1969, he was consecrated to the episcopate as Titular Archbishop of Horta and Secretary of the Roman Curia.[2] His ferocious protection of the Pope was in evidence two months later when he refused to allow Secret Service agents to be present during a private audience between the pontiff and U.S. President Richard Nixon, saying, "I'll give you 60 seconds to get out of here or you can explain to the President why the Pope could not see him today."[citation needed]

In 1979, Marcinkus was reported as having been targeted by the Red Brigades, a far-left terrorist group, for possible kidnap or assassination, after his address and other documents were found in the apartment of two group members, Valerio Morucci and Adriana Faranda.

On September 26, 1981, Marcinkus was appointed Pro-President of Vatican City.

In 1982, he thwarted an assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in Fátima, Portugal.[3]

He resigned his position on October 30, 1990.

Vatican Banker[edit]

Marcinkus was the president of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, also known as the Vatican Bank, from 1971 to 1989. As early as April 24, 1973, Marcinkus was questioned in his Vatican office by federal prosecutor William Aronwald and Bill Lynch, head of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the United States Department of Justice, about his involvement in the delivery of $14.5 million US worth of counterfeit bonds to the Vatican in July 1971, part of a total request of $950 million US worth stated in a letter on Vatican notepaper.

His name and the official letter had arisen during the investigation of an international gangster, who eventually served twelve years in prison. Marcinkus "said he considered the charges against him serious but not based enough on fact that he would violate the Vatican Bank's confidentiality to defend himself. ...back in the States it was agreed on the highest levels that the case against Marcinkus could not be pursued any further." [4]

In July 1982, Marcinkus was implicated in financial scandals being reported on the front pages of newspapers and magazines throughout Europe, particularly the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, in which Propaganda Due (aka "P2"), a Masonic Lodge, was involved (Marcinkus had been a director of Ambrosiano Overseas, based in Nassau, Bahamas, and had been involved with Ambrosiano's chairman, financier Roberto Calvi, for a number of years). He was also involved with Michele Sindona, who had links with the Mafia.

In 1984, Marcinkus was named as a possible accomplice in the supposed murder of Pope John Paul I by investigative journalist David Yallop in his book In God's Name. Yallop made allegations regarding a number of suspects associated with Marcinkus' business dealings, claiming involvement of members of the Mafia on behalf of the Vatican Bank, further stating that Marcinkus might face criminal exposure, should he be removed from his position at the bank.

Upon the election of Pope John Paul II, Marcinkus was promoted within the Vatican bank and remained in office for several years before the scandal widened, after the body of Calvi, whose Banco Ambrosiano had dealt with Marcinkus, was found hanging under London's Blackfriars Bridge in June 1982. The death of Calvi was seen by some as symbolic, since Propaganda Due referred to themselves as the "Black Friars." Adding to the troubles, journalist Mino Pecorelli, who had been investigating Marcinkus, the Vatican Bank and ties to organized crime, was murdered in 1979.[5] Marcinkus himself was never charged with a crime.[6]

He stepped aside as head of the Vatican Bank soon after, with a board of laymen assuming control of the bank.[7] The Vatican eventually paid £145 million in a settlement with creditors, with Marcinkus observing in 1986 that: "You can't run the Church on Hail Marys." [8] Markincus later said that he was misquoted, what he actually said was :" When my workers come to retire they expect a pension; it's no use my saying to them. 'I'll pay you 400 Hail Marys." [9]

Later life[edit]

He returned to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1990 before retiring to Arizona, where he lived as an assistant parish priest. He declined to discuss his role in the Ambrosiano scandal. Archbishop Marcinkus died in Sun City, Arizona aged 84, of undisclosed causes.

Portrayals[edit]

In 2006 Tom Flannery's one-man play Marcinkus premiered in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania under the direction of Paul Winarski and starring Greg Korin as the Archbishop. The production has subsequently been produced in Scranton, Pennsylvania and has been optioned for a Chicago run.

Marcinkus was also played by actor Rutger Hauer in the Italian film The Bankers of God. In Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part III, actor Donal Donnelly portrayed Archbishop Gilday, a character based on Marcinkus.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus [Catholic-Hierarchy]
  2. ^ Cornwell, Rupert (February 22, 2006). "Priest at the heart of 'God's Banker' scandal dies at 84". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ Film breaks usual Vatican secrecy - BBC News | Europe - www.bbc.co.uk
  4. ^ Joseph Coffey and Jerry Schmetterer: The Coffey Files (St. Martin's Press, 1992; Paperback edition 1993 ISBN 0-312-92922-6)
  5. ^ Cowell, Alan. "Andreotti at Crux of Murder Inquiry", The New York Times, June 10, 1993. Accessed March 23, 2008.
  6. ^ The New York Times "U.S. prelate not indicted in Italy bank scandal" April 30, 1989, accessed March 23, 2008. .
  7. ^ Wall Street Journal Western Edition, "Vatican gives control of bank to board of laymen, as archbishop steps aside" June 21, 1989, page A17.
  8. ^ May 25, 1986, Observer, London
  9. ^ Cornwell, John. 'A thief in the night; the death of John Paul 1' London 1989.

Additional sources[edit]