The Vatican announced Nov. 2 that authorities arrested a Vatican official and a former lay consultant, both former members of a papal commission set up to gather information and make reform recommendations for allegedly leaking documents to an Italian journalist who has announced plans to publish them in a book. Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Chaouqui were questioned over the weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 1 by Vatican police who have been investigating “the removal and dissemination of news and confidential documents," according to the Vatican press office, which said that leaking and publishing the documents is “a serious betrayal of trust granted by the pope. In his statement regarding this issue, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, as reported by Vatican Radio, noted that the two books are based on illegal leaks concerning the Holy See’s economic and financial activities. Such information is “in large part linked to a phase of work by now complete". This “produces the result – unfortunately largely intentional – of creating the contrary impression that of a permanent reign of confusion, lack of transparency or indeed the pursuit of particular or inappropriate interests.
The books by veteran Vatican reporters are to be published Thursday but were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.
Among the disclosures in “Merchants in the Temple,” Gianluigi Nuzzi writes that the cost of sainthood can run up to half a million dollars and tells the tale of a monsignor who allegedly broke down the wall of his neighbor, an ailing priest, to expand his apartment.
Emiliano Fittipaldi, the author of “Avarice,” claims a foundation set up to support a children’s hospital paid 200,000 euros toward renovating the apartment of the Vatican’s No. 2 at the time, Tarciso Bertone, and that money donated to help the poor was diverted to pay for running the Vatican.
Bertone came under fire last year over the apartment, described in the book as a “mega-penthouse.” Bertone has said he paid for the renovations himself.
Lombardi took issue with the reports regarding the St. Peter’s Pence collection for the poor, saying where donations go was up to the ”judgment of the Holy Father.”
“The pope’s charity works for the poor are certainly one of the essential destinations,” Lombardi said, “but it is certainly not the intention of the faithful to exclude that the pope can evaluate himself urgent essentials.”
Those “essentials” could include supporting the Vatican bureaucracy, or Roman Curia, which among other things works to distribute papal charity around the world, he noted.