Authors of two books on Vatican finances are under investigation

Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi is surrounded by the media after a Nov. 4 news conference for his new book "Merchants in the Temple: Inside Pope Francis' Secret Battle Against Corruption in the Vatican." (CNS photo/Yara Nardi, Reuters)

The Vatican has confirmed that two Italian journalists—Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi—who have written books on Vatican finances, which were published last week, are now under investigation by the Vatican City State’s judicial authorities for their possible involvement in the divulgation of confidential news and documents.

Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, issued a statement on Wednesday evening, Nov. 11, about the investigation that is under way in the Vatican regarding the theft and leaking of confidential news and documents. He thus confirmed the news that had already begun to circulate in the Italian media.

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“The Vatican Gendarmerie,” he said, “in their role as judicial police, brought to the attention of the Vatican magistrates the activity carried out by two journalists—Nuzzi and Fittipaldi” because of “their possible conspiring in the crime of divulgation of confidential news and documents.” They did so in accordance with Law n.IX of the Vatican City State, which came into force on July 13, 2013 (article 116 bis), after Pope Francis approved it.

Father Lombardi revealed that the Vatican magistrates “have acquired elements of the involvement of the two journalists in the crime,” and hence the authors have been put under investigation.

He announced that the Vatican investigators are also “examining the positions of [other persons] that by reason of their official position could have cooperated in the acquisition of the said confidential documents.” He did not clarify whether these other people belong to the publishing houses that acquired the confidential documents, or whether they actually work in the Vatican.

Earlier in the day, Father Lombardi strongly denied Italian press reports that four cardinals and the APSA—the Vatican’s central bank—were under investigation. He said there are no grounds for such stories.

Mr. Nuzzi’s book, Merchants in the Temple, which is being published in eight languages and 23 countries, and Mr. Fittipaldi’s book, Avarice, allege lack of control, mismanagement, waste, cronyism, corruption and overspending by some clergy and laymen in the Vatican. The books, however, are based mainly on information up to January 2014; that is, before Pope Francis started a fundamental reform of all Vatican finances. Furthermore, all this information was gathered at the explicit request of the pope, and is well known to him.

It should be stated, moreover, that the two books barely mention the significant results of the reforms that have taken place in the Vatican since February 2014, and to that extent they are quite misleading.

The investigation of Mr. Nuzzi and Mr. Fittipaldi is taking place in accordance with the new law introduced by Pope Francis in July 2013. According to Law n.IX of the Vatican City State’s Criminal Code, article 10 (art. 116 bis):

Whoever illicitly obtains or reveals information or documents whose disclosure is forbidden, is punished with six months to two years imprisonment or with a fine ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 euro. If the object of the offence consists of information or documents concerning the fundamental interests or the diplomatic relations of the Holy See or the State, the penalty shall be of four to eight years imprisonment. If the conduct referred to in the preceding paragraph is committed due to criminal negligence, the penalty shall be of six months to two years imprisonment.

When, on Nov. 2, the Vatican announced the arrest of a Spanish monsignor and an Italian woman for their alleged involvement in the leaking of the documents to the two journalists, it also indicated that it might take legal action against the authors of the two books. That could now happen.

The two authors have claimed that they are helping the pope in his effort to reform Vatican finances, but last Sunday Francis dismissed this and said the stealing of the documentation is “a crime” and “a deplorable act that does not help us.”

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