ROME — The Vatican invested upwards of a million dollars to finance the Rocketman film, a biopic of singer-songwriter Elton John with a graphic scene of gay sex.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera revealed this week that the Vatican’s Secretariat of State invested last February in Lapo Elkann’s eyewear and “lifestyle products” company as well as the Elton John film, using money donated by the Catholic faithful through worldwide “Peter’s Pence” collections.
According to The Times, Rocketman features a liaison between actor Taron Egerton, who plays Elton John, and Richard Madden, who appears as John Reid, his former manager, deemed “the most explicit gay love scene since Brokeback Mountain in 2005.”
Holy See prosecutors are reportedly looking into a series of Vatican investments made through the Malta-based Centurion Global Fund that financed an eclectic series of projects including real estate, mineral water, websites, and films.
Through the fund, the Vatican became a 25 percent partner in Lapo Elkann’s company Italia Independent to the tune of 6 million euros, while more recently becoming a €10 million partner with industrialist Enrico Preziosi, the chairman of the Genoa soccer team.
Along with the Rocketman film, the Vatican also invested some €3.3 million in the production of the 2019 Men in Black International film featuring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.
Perhaps more problematically, the Vatican’s biggest investment (€16 million) went to the Swiss-Swedish ABB company, which produces parts for nuclear power stations and allegedly participated in the destruction of a Malaysian rain forest.
During his recent trip to Asia, Pope Francis said that nuclear power plants should be at least temporarily banned because of their destructive capability.
Speaking in a press conference aboard the papal plane last week, the pope reiterated his belief that not only the use, but also the possession of nuclear weapons is evil, but then went on to propose a moratorium on all nuclear power.
“It’s my personal opinion, but I wouldn’t use nuclear power until it’s completely safe,” he said. “Some say that it is a risk to the care of creation and that the use of nuclear energy must be banned. I’m drawing the line at security.”
In its report, Corriere della Sera stated that Vatican capital makes up at least two-thirds of the funds managed by Centurion Global.
The Centurion fund is managed by 71-year-old Enrico Crasso, a former banker at Credit Suisse who has overseen Vatican investments for years, earning “millions of euros in commissions” as well as a gold medal of merit from the pope.
Recently, however, the fund has proved a losing venture for the Vatican, suffering a 4.61 percent loss since 2018 of some €2 million, while fund managers have reportedly continued receiving sizable bonuses.
The pope recently declared that all Church investments should support ethical enterprises. “If from Peter’s Pence you invest in a weapons factory, the pence is not a pence there, eh?” he said.
Francis said that the Secretariat of State’s investment of some $200 million in a London property development at 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea had caused a “scandal.”
“They have done things that do not seem clean,” he said.
The Vatican Press Office has issued a brief statement regarding the most recent news reports, acknowledging the Vatican’s “ongoing investigations” into investment in the Centurion Global Fund as well as others.