“God’s Banker” and the Fall of Ambrosiano

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The Pope and Roberto Calvi

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Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. I do. Don’t you?

And everyone loves a conspiracy involving all the big players – bankers, the mafia, the Vatican, the C.I.A., murder. I mean, how juicy can it get?

First, an introduction to “God’s banker” – Roberto Calvi, Chairman of Italy’s largest private bank in the ‘80s, Banco Ambrosiano.

Banco Ambrosiano was founded in Milan in 1896 by Giuseppe Tovini as a “catholic bank” as a counter-balance to Italy’s “lay banks”. Ambrosiano’s purpose was servicing “moral organizations, pious works, and religious bodies set up for charitable aims.” The bank came to be known as the “priests’ bank”; one chairman was Franco Ratti, nephew to Pope Pius XI.

Our man Calvi came to Ambrosiano in 1971 as chief of operations; in 1975 he was appointed as Chairman and began a dramatic expansion of the bank, including creating a…

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