Monday, November 2, 2015

Vatican leaks: Two arrested in new scandal

(BBC) The Vatican says it has arrested two people, a high-ranking priest and a former employee, on suspicion of leaking confidential documents.

They were members of a commission set up by Pope Francis to help reform Church finances.

Officials believe they passed records of its discussions to journalists investigating Vatican corruption.

The documents form the basis of two new books on the controversial state of the Vatican's finances.

One of the journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi, was involved in a previous leaks scandal at the Vatican, when Paolo Gabriele, butler to Pope Francis's predecessor, Benedict XVI, was found guilty of stealing and copying documents from the Pope's desk.

Gabriele was given a jail sentence but pardoned by Pope Benedict.

The Vatican has called the latest incident a "serious betrayal of trust".

Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, a 54-year-old priest, and Francesca Chaouqui, 33, were both arrested by the Vatican gendarmerie at the weekend.

New troubles for Vatican, by James Reynolds, BBC Rome correspondent

The Vatican has a recurring problem with secrets and leaks.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI's butler leaked documents which depicted infighting at the highest levels of the Church.

Some believe that this contributed to Benedict's decision to step down the following year.

Pope Francis promised a new kind of administration. Four months after his election, he created a commission designed to end mismanagement within the Curia, the bureaucracy of the Church in the Vatican.

By ordering a clean-up, the Pope inadvertently created material for a new round of leaks.

The Vatican now accuses two commission members of passing records of its discussions onto journalists.

Despite his best intentions, Pope Francis now faces the publication of details embarrassing to the church he leads.

His 88-year-old predecessor, retired to a converted Vatican convent, will sympathise.

Ms Chaouqui was released on Monday after she agreed to co-operate with investigators.

But Monsignor Vallejo Balda, a senior member of the Vatican's Prefecture for Economic Affairs, is still being held in a prison cell.

The two books, due to be published this week, are expected to reveal allegations of financial mismanagement as well as the extent of resistance to Pope Francis's attempts to reform the Vatican.

Renowned L'Espresso journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi has entitled his book Avarice: Documents Revealing Wealth, Scandals and Secrets of Francis's Church.

Meanwhile, Gianluigi Nuzzi's publisher, Chiarelettere, has said his book includes details of private meetings between high Vatican officials and the Pope.

According to the publisher, "you can hear Pope Francis, elected only three months before, as he strongly attacks the nomenklatura that for years managed the finances of the Holy See, denouncing: 'The costs are out of control, there are traps here'."


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