According to Pope Benedict XVI, abortion and gay marriage are threats to peace and that a "new world financial order" must be created to address economic issues.
The Vatican's Christmas season began Friday with the traditional lighting of its Christmas tree at St Peter's Square in Rome, Jewish News One reports (see video embedded below). The event marked the start of a busy Christmas season for the pope, which will culminate in a mass on Christmas Eve at St. Peter's Basilica. The pontiff will follow that with a speech on Christmas Day and another mass on New Year's Day to mark the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace.
The Vatican also released the pope's peace message for the holiday season. He called on policy makers to think of themselves as peace makers in economic and social policy. He warned that abortion and gay marriage were threats to peace. Benedict also renewed his call for a new world financial order guided by ethical and moral decisions, saying that "the profit-at-all-costs mentality" of the past was selfish and destructive.
Earlier this year, the American investment company, J.P. Morgan, announced that it was closing its account with the Vatican bank due to lack of transparency on the bank's part. This followed reports of fraud and money laundering conducted by the Vatican bank. In September 2010, Italian authorities seized $30 million which prompted the pope to announce in December of that same year the creation of the Vatican Central Bank to monitor all financial transactions of the only bank in Vatican City, the IOR, and international operations of financial institutions of the Holy See.
Bishop Accountability reports that from the years 1984-2009, in the United States alone, approximately 3,000 civil cases have been filed against the Catholic Church for claims associated with sexual abuse by clergy. The Church has paid out over $3 billion in awards and settlements to survivors of abuse. Bishop Accountability adds, "And $3 billion might even be an underestimate. Our table shows payouts to 3,547 survivors, only about 27 percent of the over 13,000 survivors who the bishops say have come forward. The total number of victims may be 100,000."