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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman — featuring an explicit gay sex scene — was financed, in part, by Catholic parishioners' money.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported Wednesday that Malta-based investment firm Centurion Global Fund — whose largest investor is the Vatican — funneled €1 million ($1.1 million) into producing the film, which contains "the most explicit gay love scene since Brokeback Mountain in 2005."
The newspaper noted that the money originated from Peter's Pence, the pope's charitable fund for the poor.
Details of the investment emerged from the Holy See's investigation into the Vatican Secretariat of State's dealings with Centurion.
The revelation is the latest in a series of startling discoveries involving the Secretariat's use of Catholic donations for speculative investments instead of good works.
On Nov. 28, the president of Rome's Dermatopathic Institute of the Immaculate (IDI) revealed that the bankrupt Italian hospital — purchased by the Secretariat of State in 2015 —had received millions of dollars from U.S.-based charity, the Papal Foundation, to help shore up expenses.
It emerged that in 2017, then-Secretary of State Cdl. Angelo Becciu organized an effort by Vatican authorities and American bishops — including serial sexual predator Theodore McCarrick — to pressure the Papal Foundation board into issuing a grant of $25 million to the troubled IDI.
American donors were told that their donation would be used to cover a temporary budgetary shortfall. Instead, insiders later reported, the sum was intended to help clear IDI's €50 million ($55 million) debt, thereby sparing the Secretariat scandal.
In October, Vatican police raided the offices of the Secretariat and the Financial Information Authority (AIF), the Holy See's financial watchdog agency, seeking information into the alleged misappropriation of hundreds of millions of Peter's Pence dollars.
Under Cdl. Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and his deputy, Abp. Edgar Peña Parra, the Secretariat directed $200 million from Peter's Pence toward the purchase of a luxury apartment building in the heart of London's exclusive West End, with another $250 million apparently funneled to fraudulent legal firms set up to cover the purchase of the property.
According to a report by the Daily Beast, the apartments were used by clergy for immoral sexual purposes — a claim Church Militant has not been able to verify.
The money used to purchase the London property was originally earmarked as an investment in petrolium supplier Falcon Oil, which operates an oil platform off the coast of Angola.
The Vatican apparently invests in various speculative offshore operations, using Credit Suisse bank, "in whose Swiss and Italian branches the Vatican is paid up to about 77% of the assets managed."
According to documents leaked to Italian media, the Secretariat of State owns and manages roughly $715 million in funds, a sum "deriving in large part from donations received by the Holy Father for charitable works [Peter's Pence] and for the sustenance of the Roman Curia."
In spite of the mushrooming money scandals, Pope Francis insists his financial reforms are on track.
Aboard the papal plane on Nov. 26, the pontiff asserted that directing Peter's Pence donations to speculative investments was a matter of "good administration."
"First of all, in good administration it is normal for a sum to come from the Peter’s Pence, and what do I do? Put in a drawer? No, this is bad administration," he suggested. "Your capital you do not devalue, if it maintains or if it grows a little. This is good administration."
The pope added that the contributions must be directed toward moral investments: "If from Peter's Pence you invest in a weapons factory, the pence is not a pence there, eh?"
But in the wake of the Rocketman revelation, faithful Catholics are countering that Francis' statement rings hollow.