Vatican City, Aug 15, 2013 / 02:02 am (CNA).- The Vatican accountant who was recently suspended for allegedly trying to smuggle $26 million had been part of a group known as “The Flock,” which has supposed Mafia connections.
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is currently under arrest in Italy for an alleged plan to transfer 20 million Euro from Switzerland to Italy aboard an Italian government airplane.
Italian newspaper “Il Mattino” reports that Msgr. Scarano was entrusted with the management of a network of real estate activities for the spiritual family “L'opera del gregge del Bamin Gesù,” or “The works of the flock of the infant Jesus.”
“The Flock,” as it is known, was a sort of spiritual family formed in Salerno by a group of priests aged 40-50 who gathered around a visionary known by his first name, Caterina.
Msgr. Scarano is known to have been a member of The Flock, which was officially an association of prayer yet acted primarily as a private limited company managing a series of economic activities.
The companions of The Flock, including Msgr. Scarano, bought these properties with the aim of founding a true gathering of people who could live together in community.
According to sources who spoke to CNA Aug. 12 and asked for anonymity, a portion of the real estate properties were sold to The Flock by Benito Imposimato, an builder whose properties and activities were involved in a Mafia investigation.
The Flock also controlled a co-op called Maris Stella, which sought mortgages to build houses and wished to buy a chapel in the town of Pagliarone, about 12 miles from Salerno, which they could add on to, to make a sort of convent.
The economic activity of the small community did not pass unobserved.
Archbishop Gerardo Pierro, then the Archbishop of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno wrote a letter to both the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2007, reporting about The Flock's activities.
In the letter, Archbishop Pierro, who is now 78 and retired, accused the community of “proselytism” and described it as “a sect conflicting with the life and spiritual and pastoral needs of the diocesan priesthood.”
At that time, he was already working in the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and was proposed as a mediator between The Flock and the Diocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno, according to a source in the diocese who spoke with CNA Aug. 13.
Italian investigators suppose that Msgr. Scarano’s business in Salerno has its roots in his past experience in The Flock. It has been found that the monsignor invested most of his funds in his hometown of Salerno.
He is also being investigated by the public prosecutor in Salerno for supposedly laundering 560,000 Euros ($742,500) he took from his account in the Institute for Religious Works – the so-called Vatican bank – to pay off the mortgage of a house.
Salerno's prosecutor has already submitted an international request to the Vatican for information about Msgr. Scarano's involvement with the Institute for Religious Works.
Investigators believe Msgr. Scarano opened other accounts under his own name and put them at the disposal of his friends in Salerno. They would then use the accounts to launder their own money before transferring it to a foreign country.