Vatican condemns ‘criminal’ leaks
Published Pope’s confidential letters tell of power struggles inside the Holy See
The Vatican has denounced as “criminal” a new book of leaked internal documents that shed light on power struggles inside the Holy See and the thinking of its embattled top banker, and warned that it would take legal action against those responsible.
Pope Benedict XVI has already appointed a commission of cardinals to investigate the Vatileaks scandal, which erupted earlier this year with the publication of leaked memos alleging corruption and mismanagement in Holy See affairs and internal squabbles over its efforts to comply with international anti-money laundering norms.
The publication on Saturday of His Holiness (Sua Santità), by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, added fuel to the fire, reproducing confidential letters and memos to and from Pope Benedict and his personal secretary which, according to the Vatican, violated the Pope’s right to privacy.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said in a statement the book was an “objectively defamatory” work that “clearly assumes characters of a criminal act”.
He said the Holy See would get to the bottom of who “stole” the documents, who received them and who published them.
He warned the Holy See would seek international cooperation in its quest for justice, presumably with Italian magistrates.
The Vatican had already warned of legal action against Mr Nuzzi after he broadcast letters in January from the former number two Vatican administrator to the Pope in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices.
The prelate, Mgr Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican’s US ambassador.
Mr Nuzzi, author of Vatican SpA, a 2009 volume laying out shady dealings of the Vatican bank based on leaked documents, said he was approached by sources inside the Vatican with the trove of new documents, most of them of fairly recent vintage and many of them painting the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a negative light.
Much of the documentation is fairly Italy-centric: About a 2009 scandal over the ex-editor of the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, a never-before-known dinner between Pope Benedict and Italy’s President, and even a 2011 letter from Italy’s pre-eminent talk show host Bruno Vespa to the pope enclosing a check for €10,000 for his charity work − and asking for a private audience in exchange.
But there are international leaks as well, including diplomatic cables from Vatican embassies from Jerusalem to Cameroon.
Some concern the conclusions of the Pope’s delegate to the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order in a memo to the Pope last autumn.
He warned that the financial situation of the order, beset by a scandal over its paedophile founder, “while not grave, is serious and pressing”.
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the head of the Institute for Religious Works, otherwise known as the Vatican’s bank, gets significant ink, with reproduced private memos to thePope with his take on the Vatican’s response to the global financial crisis and how to handle the Church’s tax exempt status amid Italian government efforts to crack down on tax evasion.
The bank has been trying for some two years to remedy its reputation as a shady tax haven beset by scandals, which include the collapse of Italy’s Banco Ambrosiano and the death of its head, Roberto Calvi, who also helped manage Vatican investments and was found hanging from London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982.