Pope Francis on Sunday denounced the stealing and leaking of confidential documents from the Vatican as “a crime” and “a deplorable act that does not help.” At the same time, he confirmed his steely determination to press ahead with the reforms that he started in July 2013 and that are now underway in the Vatican.
It was his first public comment about the theft and leaking of confidential documents that regard Vatican finances up to January 2014, and the mismanagement, difficulties, failures and even criminal activities that have taken place in relation to these over past years. The leaked documentation was gathered by a commission specifically set up by Francis in July 2013 to investigate the whole situation of Vatican finances. It should be noted that the documents provide much detailed information but only up to January 2014, after that there is little.
Two members of that commission—a Spanish monsignor working in the Roman Curia, Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, and an Italian public relations expert, Francesca Chaouqui—were arrested last weekend for allegedly leaking the documentation to two Italian journalists who have just published books on this whole subject. She was subsequently released because she is pregnant and is cooperating with investigators.
At noon today, Sunday Nov. 8, Francis spoke publicly about these criminal acts and the negative publicity that it has generated in the media, particularly in Italy but also in other countries, following the publication of the two books—“Merchants in the Temple” by Gianluigi Nuzzi, and “Avarizia” (Avarice) by Emiliano Fittipaldi.
The pope did so when he greeted tens of thousands of Italians and pilgrims from many countries gathered in St Peter’s Square, who had come to hear his words and receive his blessing.
“I know that many of you have been upset by the news circulating in recent days concerning the Holy See’s confidential documents that were taken and published,” he told them.
“For this reason—he said—I want to tell you, first of all, that stealing those documents was a crime. It’s a deplorable act that does not help.” By this last much applauded comment Francis outrighly rejected the thesis proffered by the authors of the books that they had published them to help the Pope.
He told the crowd, “I personally had asked for that study to be carried out and both I and my advisers were well acquainted with [the contents of] those documents and steps have been taken that have started to bear fruit, some of them even visible.” This last remark was a reference to the fact that the two books give little or information about the extensive reforms that have taken place in this whole area since February 2014, and the positive results that have come from these.
He went on to assure the pilgrims in the square and Catholics throughout the world that these criminal acts and all this negative news would not in any way stop or slow down the reforms that he has started, and firmly intends to complete.
“I wish to reassure you that this sad event certainly does not deter me from the reform project that we are carrying out, together with my advisers and with the support of all of you,” Francis stated, again drawing enthusiastic and prolonged applause from the crowd.
He made clear that the reform and renewal continues relentlessly “with the support of the whole church because the church renews itself with prayer and the daily holiness of each baptized person.”
Francis concluded, amid warm applause, by thanking people for their support and called on Catholics worldwide to pray for him and for the church, saying: “I therefore thank you and ask you to continue to pray for the pope and the church, without getting upset or troubled but proceeding with faith and hope."
The full text of the pope's statement can be found here.