During a lengthy interview conducted at the Vatican with the Italian weekly Panorama, Archbishop Angelo Becciu said that, The Vatican is not “a den of thieves". He argued that the claims have been “supremely unjust” saying that Vatican employees are embarrassed to tell people where they work.
“The Vatican is not a den of thieves. To represent it as such constitutes an absolute falsehood. I find it extremely unjust that our employees, proudly carrying out a service for the pope and the church, have gotten to the point, for some time now, of being ashamed to tell people they work here. I must reiterate firmly that we are not a bunch of corrupt and incompetent people," he said.
Speaking to them, he said necessary economic and administrative reforms and countermeasures have been taken to address any problems.
The interview which was greatly focused on accusations of Vatican’s financial mismanagement by two Italian journalists, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi who wrote books detailing Vatican mismanagement.They are also accused of exerting pressure, especially on (Msgr.) Vallejo Balda, in order to obtain restricted information and documents. Others standing trial for involvement in leaking and publishing confidential documents about Vatican finances are; Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See; Nicola Maio, who served as personal assistant to Msgr. Vallejo Balda when he worked on the commission.
Responding the claims of mismanagement, he said “stealing those documents was a crime, a deplorable act that does not help. The right of journalists to publish news they come to have is not in question. The misgivings concern the way in which this news was obtained. There is a trial underway that will find out," he added.
Concerning Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui, Becciu said their “betrayal was a slap in the face to the Holy Father. They had solemnly promised on the Gospel not to reveal to anyone issues regarding Vatican financial practices.
Archbishop Becciu when asked to address the issue regarding Cardinals living in sizable apartments while the Pope chose to live in a set of small rooms in the guest house.He said; The Vatican had maintained that culture since 1930 when Cardinals were regarded as princes of the church and treated as such.
He said Nuzzi’s suggestion of moving the cardinals into the more modest Vatican guesthouse would be “populist bordering on the ridiculous".
There would be the problem of where to then house the priests who are living at the guesthouse, he said: “We would have to build another building to house them", which would be a “huge waste" of resources, and all the large cardinal residences would be left empty.
When asked why the property would be left vacant, the archbishop said only Vatican citizens and employees are allowed to live in Vatican-owned properties.
“Imagine the pandemonium that would be let loose if by accident they ended up being rented to tax evaders or in any case individuals wanted by the law who could benefit from immunity" by living in Vatican City State instead of Italy, he said.
Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu is the current Substitute for General Affairs in the Vatican Secretary of State, a position he has held since May 10 2011.