|Not what it looks like at all|
The somewhat belated step towards the moral high ground comes after Italian judges ordered the seizure of £19m which the Vatican had tried to deposit in a commercial bank in St Peter’s Square, without any explanation of where it had come from or who it was intended for, and began a criminal investigation into the sacred bank’s director and his deputy.
The Pope then tried to evade international laws on money laundering by claiming that his bank was not really a bank at all, but an Institute for Works of Religion. Financial regulators then sang the response, ‘Pa aliam filiolus Jacobus in eo campanae’, (‘Pull the other one, sonny Jim - it’s got bells on’), and dismissed him with a demand to clean up his act by 31st December or else.
Successive popes throughout the ages have maintained a tradition of pretending that things are not what they might appear to be to the simple, unenlightened layman. For example, the Vatican is not just a big church with rather a lot of administrative wings tacked onto it, but an important nation state with embassies and a seat at the UN, while a doddery old bloke in a big hat is actually God’s personal spokesman on earth and a Nazi anti-aircraft gun is in fact Christ’s Blessed Finger of Thunderous Mercy.