Five face trial for leaking Holy See scandal
Five people accused of 'leaking and publishing' secret documents revealing mismanagement in the Holy See are to go on trial. If convicted, the five could be jailed for up to eight years. Media groups have proposed that the Vatican drop the charges as the journalists were just doing their jobs. Neither the accused nor their lawyers have got details of the charges.
The Vatican had arrested two people, a high-ranking priest and a former-employee, on suspicion of leaking confidential documents. They were part of commission set up by Pope Francis to help reform Church finances. Vatican officials said that they had passed records of the commission's discussions to journalists who were investigating corruption. The former employee was released after she agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
In a statement, Vatican said that the leak of documents was a serious betrayal of the trust given by the Pope. It said that the authors were part of an operation to take advantage of the gravely illicit act of handing over confidential documentation. It added that the publication of the books would only create confusion and would not establish clarity and truth.
Two new books written by Italian journalists allegedly revealed numerous financial scandals and extravagant expenditures in the Vatican. Vatican documents and taped conversations were published in it. One of the books claimed that Pope complained to the reform committee about excessive number of employees hired at the Vatican. The book also had private criticisms of Pope Francis to his closest advisers.
The books, Merchants in the Temple by Gianluigi Nuzzi and Avarice by Emiliano Fittipaldi, detail mismanagement and alleged greed in the Vatican, and are seen as part of a bitter internal struggle between reformers and the old guard.
The books claimed that Vatican's real estate holdings were 2.7 billion euros, more than seven times what is declared in its financial reports. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See's secretary of state under former Pope Benedict XVI, had taken a 23,000 euro helicopter ride to southern Italy by using funds for sick children from a Catholic Hospital, allegedly to do marketing for the hospital.
Pope Francis is the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, a title he holds by virtue as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City.
Describing the theft of documents from inside the Holy See as a crime, Pope Francis pledged to continue reform of its administration. He said that publishing the stolen documents in the two books which released last week was shameful. He said that the leaked documents was a result of his reform work and that he had already taken measures to address the problems.
The Holy See, informally referred to as "the Vatican", is the ecclesiastical (priestly) jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the episcopal (sacred) see of the Pope.