Born Agnes Gonxha in Albania, Mother Teresa founded the world-famous ‘Missionaries of Charity’ and spent the majority of her life in Calcutta, India, providing care for people living in poverty there. Before her passing in 1997, she had opened 517 missions in more than 100 countries.
Her brand of altruism soon developed a worldwide reputation, with her name becoming synonymous with good deeds and earthy sacrifice in the service of the poor.
In 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was beatified by the Vatican, approaching sainthood.
She was not without her critics however. Accusations of mishandling cash followed the iconic charity figure after her death. Critics maintain that the hundreds of millions of dollars collected by her foundation have not been distributed as effectively as many thought.
This week another new chapter to this story has emerged. According to a newly-released book by Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, it was Mother Teresa’s cash savings which helped to prop-up the Vatican’s shadowy financial institution, and that if she had withdrew those funds the bank could have potentially defaulted, said Italy’s La Presse magazine.
In his new book entitled, The Original Sin, Nuzzi also exposes the role of American archbishop Paul Marcinkus (image,left) who was appointed president of the Vatican Bank, and accuses the archbishop of meddling in Vatican affairs.
“There is a power block in the Vatican that obstructs Pope Francis’ reforming action just as it did with Benedict XVI – it existed with Marcinkus and his parallel management of the IOR – and it still exists today,” said journalist Nuzzi.
“Her [Mother Teresa] account in the Vatican bank is proof that these gentlemen were and still are within the Curia and they trust them. They were also trusted by Mother Teresa, who, as is told, entered the Ior by a secondary door and was welcomed by Monsignor De Bonis, Marcinkus’s right arm.”
Nuzzi went on to explain the case of Marcinkus’s right-hand, one archbishop Donato De Bonis, who worked beside Marcinkus when the American was president of the Vatican Bank under Pope Paul VI in 1970.
“From that moment their power strengthened day by day, the book reads, De Bonis knew the bank in all its ins and outs. He skilfully moved within the sacred buildings, appearing to be more acquainted with the cinema’s jet set than with the needy souls of the faithful – he was closer to the man of the Roman palaces than to the poor of Mother Teresa,” Nuzzi said (Source: Affaritaliani).
How well has her money been managed in terms of helping the poor? That’s a topic which has been hotly debated over the years.
The exact net worth of Mother Theresa’s charitable empire is a closely guarded secret, but some reports estimate it is upwards of several billion dollars, which stands to reason if her assets provided the liquidity to stabilize and institution such as the Vatican Bank. German journalist Walter Wuellenweber from Stern Magazine reported this story in 2006:
“Every night around 25 sisters had to spend many hours preparing receipts for donations. It was a conveyor belt process: some sisters typed, others made lists of the amounts, stuffed letters into envelopes, or sorted the cheques. Values were between $5 and $100.000. Donors often dropped their envelopes filled with money at the door. Before Christmas the flow of donations was often totally out of control. The postman brought sackfuls of letters — cheques for $50000 were no rarity.” Sister Virgin remembers that one year there was about $50 million in a New York bank account. $50 million in one year! — in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then, were they collecting in Europe or the world? It is estimated that worldwide they collected at least $100 million per year — and that has been going on for many many years.”
How much of this fortune is still in trust today, and where is it held?
That’s a question everyone would like to know, but may never find out.