Simply serving up lay Italian villains with no standing in the ecclesiastical power structure such as Torzi may be good theater, but it’s hard to argue it’s the end of the story.
Last Friday, the latest twist in the Vatican’s version of the “Great Fire of London,” in their case referring to a $225 million land deal in London that went spectacularly wrong and ended in scandal, came with the arrest of a shadowy lay Italian financier named Gianluigi Torzi.
For those who haven’t followed the affair, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State originally laid out roughly $225 million to buy part of a former Harrod’s warehouse in the posh London neighborhood of Chelsea, which, at the time, was slated for conversion into luxury apartments. What especially outraged some observers is that the Secretariat of State financed the deal in part using funds from the annual Peter’s Pence collection, which is marketed to ordinary Catholics around the world as a way to support papal charities.
When the Secretariat of State’s relationship soured with the original Italian moneyman who brokered the deal, Raffaele Mincione, Torzi apparently was brought in to try to put things right, but now he too is accused, among other offenses, of attempted extortion by claiming exorbitant fees.
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