How In The Name Of Jesus Did Raffaello Follieri Get People To Believe Him?

Illustration for article titled How In The Name Of Jesus Did Raffaello Follieri Get People To Believe Him?

It occurred to me at a party last night that you could be heading into some serious social occasions this weekend without a full grasp of how fucking awesome Anne Hathaway's ex-boyfriend is, and I can't let that happen because it is the feelgood story of the summer because it's literally impossible not to come away with it imbued in the sense of your own of intellectual superiority. I'll explain! Raffaello Follieri is an Italian ex-convict's son who came to the United States a few years back and met, through a lawyer friend, a sleazy billionaire supermarket magnate named Ron Burkle. The year was 2005. The Orange County Archdiocese had just agreed to pay a record $100 million pedophile settlement and all across the country Catholic churches were trying to sell off their rectories and lyceums and school properties and whatnot. So Raffaello comes in and tells Burkle he has first dibs on all of it. Why? Because he's the CFO of the Vatican. At 26 years old. Does the Vatican even have a CFO? Who knows, right, maybe that sort of thing would be public information if it weren't the Vatican we were talking about.


Anyway, so…Burkle agrees to give him $100 million. On what basis? Well, Follieri tells him he's got the "right of first refusal" to buy the property and he's tight with this Monsignor named John E. Kozar. Sometimes Follieri would dress up Kozar in nicer robes that he kept in his office so as to pass him off as more than a monsignor.

Now, the Vatican's finances don't have anything to do with the American Catholic Church's. No one knows this better than fucking Monsignor Kozar, who just issued a batch of radio addresses on May 29 with this explanation:

This year was chosen for this project, Monsignor Kozar observed, because of its missionary significance for the Church in the United States. On June 29, 1908, a decree of Pope Pius X removed the designation "mission territory" from the Church in the United States, meaning that we were no longer dependent upon the sacrifices of the Catholics of Europe - through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies - to support our pastoral and evangelizing needs.

Moreover, the whole point selling off all that property was that the Vatican wasn't footing the bill. If the Vatican had been footing the bill, maybe some pretty art would be in the hands of some post-traumatic altarboys right now, but it's not. Anyway, so yeah, Monsignor Kozar totally knew that Follieri was full of shit, but pretty much every thinking person should have known, particularly Ron Burkle and, like, hello, the people in charge of selling Catholic church properties. But no! Because those people are fucking stupid, as a National Catholic Reporter story revealed in 2006:

"When Raffaello wants to meet with the bishop, they put the touch on from the Vatican and they get the meeting," said one East Coast diocesan real estate professional. "They're about as connected as it gets."

Or here:

How well wired is the Follieri Group? In early 2005, Catholic blogger Domenico Bettinelli, editor of the Catholic World Report, summed it up: "Unless [Andrea Sodano's] name was Wojtyla, you couldn't get a better connection."


Oh look, a Catholic blogger. That guy sure must feel stupid now!

I wonder if it was really a private eye or if it was the FBI. If it was really a private eye, maybe they were representing "supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos." who sued Follieri after accusing him of misappropriating more than $1 million.


Uh, ya think? By the way, Burkle actually sued him for $55 million and according to the Journal the indictment reads reeeeally similarly to his lawsuit, and also, just incidentally, if you were an FBI agent, interviewing you, why would you bother misrepresenting yourself? As a private investigator of all genius covers? Isn't that sort of like me calling up the DA's media relations department for a statement so I could post an update on my Tumblr?</

Wow, it's funny to be caught up in the middle of all this, especially since I really don't know anything about it.



So much for us Catholics and our dogged prosecutory persistence in seeking/missionary zeal for finding the truth, right! I guess that's what I would say, if Ron Burkle and Bill Clinton weren't the biggest suckers in this whole fucking scam. A billionaire and a Rhodes scholar ex-president. Neither of whom ever had to believe in trans-substantiation.


Follieri Charged With Fraud; Claimed Special Vatican Connection [National Catholic Reporter]

Dear Anne Hathaway, If You Don't Read Your Ex-Boyfriend's Indictment You Are Going To Hell

Anne Hathaway's Ex Gets 21 Million Bail With Home Detention

Italy's Man From God [NYT]

Give Anne Hathaway's Ex Credit (Cards) [Fox News]

Vatican Ties Go Just So Far For Follieri Group [Post-Gazette]

Vatican Asks Condoleezza Rice To Help Stop A Sex Abuse Lawsuit [National Catholic Reporter]

Catholic Real Estate Bonanza [National Catholic Reporter]


It never occurred to anyone to give the Pope a little ringy, you know to vouch for this guy?