Pope Francis has freed the priest convicted in Vatileaks scandal from prison

Pope Francis attends an ecumenical event at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, Oct. 31. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis, in an act of clemency, has allowed one of the chief perpetrators of Vatileaks II, the Spanish monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Baldo, to leave prison and return to his home diocese in Spain.

The Vatican announced this on the evening of Dec. 20. It said the pope granted Msgr. Vallejo Baldo clemency through “the benefit of conditional freedom” although he has not extinguished his prison sentence.

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The 55-year-old Spaniard was condemned last July to 18 months in prison by a Vatican court for his role in the leaking of Vatican financial documents and reports to two Italian journalists who published two books based on this information.

At the time of the pope’s decision, Msgr. Vallejo Baldo had effectively served half of his prison sentence.

“He now regains his freedom,” the Vatican said. “He leaves prison this evening and ceases to have any working relationship of dependence with the Holy See.” He will return to Spain under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Astorga, the diocese to which he belongs as a priest.

Msgr. Vallejo Baldo was appointed secretary of the commission that Francis established in July 2013 to analyze the economic-financial situation of the Holy See. Two years later, in November 2015, he was arrested by the Vatican gendarmerie for leaking confidential information from that commission.

The law of the Vatican City State, revised by Pope Francis in 2013, considers the revealing of information and documents regarding the fundamental interests of the state as a criminal offense.

His co-conspirator, an Italian public relations woman, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, was also arrested for her role in the same crime, but she was not imprisoned because she was pregnant. She, too, was condemned by the Vatican tribunal to 10 months in prison, but her sentence was suspended as she had given birth to a son by then.

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