Rumor: Vatican amassed properties thanks to money from Mussolini

The Guardian reports that the fascist dictator gave the Vatican millions in exchange for papal recognition.

UNCONFIRMED: The Catholic Church reportedly owns a slew of deluxe properties in London thanks to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

The Guardian reported that the Vatican owns a "surprising secret commercial property empire" it was able to build using cash that Mussolini gave it in exchange for papal recognition of the fascist regime in 1929.

According to the report, the church's properties are disguised behind an offshore company structure. The Guardian also claimed the Vatican will go to great lengths to keep the millions it got from Mussolini a secret.

The Guardian's investigative report claimed that the money Mussolini originally gave to the church now exceeds $793 million in value. The Guardian reported the Vatican spent about $24 million in 2006 to purchase 30 St. James's Square, the only square in the exclusive St. James's district of Westminster. According to the report, the church also owns property in Paris and Switzerland.

Vatican denies claim

The Vatican has said The Guardian's investigation was "misleading and historically incorrect," according to The Telegraph.

According to The Telegraph, the money was actually obtained through the Lateran Accords of 1929, an agreement that forced Mussolini to recognize the Vatican as a sovereign nation. Under the accords, the church relinquished its former papal states.

The Telegraph reported that the money from Mussolini was recompense for property the Vatican lost in the 1860s when the Kingdom of Italy invaded papal states.

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