When Benny Hinn made a statement to his followers in his August 5th broadcast that he had gone to Rome and had been made a Patron of the Arts it was inevitable someone would write the Vatican Museum program and ask.
Christian Research Services queried Fr. Mark Haydu, International Coordinator/Director of The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. His response:
To my knowledge, Paula White or Benny Hinn were not invited to the Vatican Museums in any official context, nor did we find anyone on our donors database of Patrons under those names. [Original on file with CRS]
Haydu told Christian Research Services that thousands of people visit the Vatican yearly and he’d only be aware of Patrons and visitors to the Museums.
Benny Hinn was the one who told people on camera that was the Vatican department he dealt with. The full story is here, including Hinn and White’s original statements July 24th about their trip to Rome. You can watch the broadcast of Hinn saying he was made a Patron of the Arts here. This is what he said:
The Vatican did invite me a few days ago. They made me a Patron of the Arts in the Vatican two weeks ago. And that’s a fact! A Patron of the Arts means you support the Vatican so they can maintain all the work of Michelangelo. I’m one of the guys now that supports what they do. And that is a fact. I was there, and we were taken around by a man named Wilhelm Kramer [or Cramer]. And they asked me, literally they said, “Do you know people that can help us financially?” I said, “Alright.”
Now here’s where I made my mistake: I let her [Paula White] come with me to Rome, so she can donate money. That was stupid on my part.
It’s possible paperwork of the bestowing of Patron of the Arts to Hinn and White hasn’t caught up to Haydu, a lot of things are possible. Given the date of the Hinn/White Rome visit is publicly known, checking the visit would not be difficult for officials running the Museums. Or a curious researcher. Or The National Enquirer. Paula White supposedly told her congregation in Florida she was heading off on vacation during that time. (the broadcast is not online) After telling her congregation she was on vacation White then said in her July statement she was in Rome on ministry business. Her congregation found out about the Rome trip like everyone else from US tabloid. This is what she said in her public statement:
I publicly profess and forcefully renounce assertions that the recent trip to Italy to meet with Vatican officials suggests that the friendship is in any way improper or morally impure. We traveled independently to the region for respective ministry duties…
Since Hinn and White were ‘being made’ Patrons, they would have had to give the Vatican Museums money.
Donating would require real names or the name of their US ministries (donor money) and not the name David Solomon that Hinn supposedly used to check into the Rome hotel. It’s possible Hinn and White gave the Vatican a cash donation and phony names to become Patrons, anything is possible. But not probable.
If anything changes in this “I said/The Vatican said” discrepancy, I’ll post.