Vatican sues journalists who leaked Catholic Church’s confidential information
The Vatican said on Saturday it would sue five people, including two investigative journalists and their informers, in connection with the recent VatiLeaks 2 scandal.
The Catholic Church accused the five of publishing confidential documents and information relating to the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the state.
The journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, had published books on Catholic Church scandals based on leaked documents.
In particular, they accused the church of irresponsibly wasting the money of its faithful.
The other three are their informers, who are all connected to the Vatican commission Cosea, which was set up by Pope Francis to help reform the state’s economic and administrative structures.
Lucio Balda, Francesca Chaouqui and Nicola Maio are also accused of forming a criminal organisation.
The Vatican is a sovereign state with its own judicial system and should the accused not appear in court, the trial will go ahead in their absence, the Vatican said.
Vatican puts 2 reporters under investigation in leaks probe
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Wednesday it had placed two Italian journalists under investigation in its probe over leaked documents that revealed waste, greed and mismanagement at the highest levels of the
Catholic Church hierarchy.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote two bombshell books detailing the uphill battle
Pope Francis is facing in reforming the Vatican bureaucracy. Their books, released last week, were based on leaked documents from a reform commission Francis named to get a handle on the Vatican’s finances and propose reforms so that more money could go to charity.
Already, two members of the commission who had access to the documents have been arrested by Vatican police.
Vatican spokesman the Rev.
Federico Lombardi said Wednesday that Nuzzi and Fittipaldi had been placed under investigation by Vatican magistrates for their alleged role in dealing with the leaked documents. He said other officials were being looked at for having possibly cooperated in the scandal.
Reached in Berlin, Nuzzi said he knew nothing of the investigation. Fittipaldi was quoted by his L’Espresso magazine as saying the investigation was the price he has to pay for doing his job.
In the Italian and Vatican legal systems, people are frequently placed under investigation without charges ever being filed as part of the information-gathering process by investigative magistrates. It wasn’t immediately clear that the Vatican would have jurisdiction over the two journalists if they saw or obtained the documents outside Vatican territory.
After Nuzzi published a bombshell book in 2012 based on documents given to him by
Pope Benedict XVI’s butler, the Vatican criminalized the leaking of documents.
The new books were based on internal reports that revealed millions of euros in lost rental income from the Vatican’s vast real estate holdings, millions in missing inventory from the Vatican’s tax-free stores, the exorbitant costs for getting a saint made as well as the greed of monsignors and cardinals who lusted after huge apartments.
Singled out for particular scorn has been
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state under Pope Benedict XVI who has long been blamed for many of the administrative, financial and communications problems of Benedict’s troubled papacy. Bertone was the main target of the leaked documents in Nuzzi’s 2012 book on Vatican waste and mismanagement, which some say helped prompt Benedict to resign.
Fittipaldi’s book “
Avarice” picked up where Nuzzi left off, revealing that the foundation of Italy’s pre-eminent children’s hospital, the Holy See-owned Bambino Gesu, paid 200,000 euros ($215,000) to renovate Bertone’s Vatican apartment after he retired. Bertone has insisted he paid 300,000 euros for the fix-up out of his own pocket.
On Wednesday, Bertone confirmed that he had recently learned that the foundation had also paid the bill but that he had never told it to do so. In a letter to the newsweekly of his former
Genoa diocese, Bertone said he had asked his lawyer to investigate and that he would take action if any “fraudulent action had been conducted in my name.”
The books have spawned a week of headlines in Italian newspapers, prompting the Vatican on Wednesday to come out in force to dispute the reports and warn that it would take legal steps to protect its name.
Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, for example, denounced as “unacceptable” reports that it had rented out some of its prime real estate at below-market rates, saying all of its properties are rented at market prices with a few exceptions for indigent situations.
The congregation, also known as “Propaganda Fide,” uses its rental proceeds to fund the church’s activities in the developing world, as well as the
Pontifical Urbaniana University which trains priests and nuns from poor countries. It insisted that it was fully on board with Francis’ reform agenda amid previous reports that it had resisted turning over financial information to the reform commission and the Vatican’s new Secretariat for the Economy.
Pope Francis’ top deputy, Cardinal
Pietro Parolin, said Wednesday the reports have bordered on “hysteria” and were simply “attacks on the church.”
He acknowledged, however, that Francis’ reform agenda has run into “resistance.”
“Changing things is always difficult because we’re always tempted to continue in the daily ho-hum way we do things,” Parolin told Vatican Radio. But he said the key was to “transform what can be normal resistance in the face of change into tools for reform.”
Vatican Spokesman Threatens to Sue Catholic Blogger
Father Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman who works in the media, has sent a menacing legal letter to a little-known Canadianblogger, threatening a lawsuit for allegedly criticizing him unfairly.
Father Rosica serves as assistant in the Holy See Press Office in charge of speaking to the English language press. A Canadian himself, Rosica is also founder of the Canadian Catholic cable network called Salt & Light. Though Rosica publicly defends the right tofreedom of speech and press, he is attempting to silence the blogger who has criticized him.
On February 17, Rosica’s lawyers sent a letter to David Domet, who blogs at a site called Vox Cantoris, demanding that Domet take down certain blog posts they say malign Rosica’s character. The letter says:
Each of the said statements, separately and collectively, expressly and by way of innuendo, are false and defamatory in that they suggest that Fr. Rosica is dishonest; they suggest that Fr. Rosica is untrustworthy; they suggest that Fr. Rosica is willing to act unethically to further his own agenda and to do so at the expense of others.
At issue are a number of posts criticizing Rosica for his role in the unusually contentious Extraordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican last October, which drew global attention to the debate within the Catholic hierarchy over communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and the Church’s approach to homosexual unions. Some feared, and others hoped, that the Church was set to change traditional doctrine. The blog Vox Cantoris claimed that Father Rosica, who was one of the official spokesmen of the Synod, was central to efforts to change at least Church practice, if not Church teaching.
Rosica’s letter pointed to nine specific posts, among them:
Make no mistake friends, Tom Rosica and the rest of them are not going to go quietly in the night. They are going to work insidiously over the next year so that there (sic) heterodox view of Catholicism is enacted, not in doctrine, but in praxis. For Father Rosica, it is but a continuing journey.In a stunning rebuke of President of the Internet Father Thomas Rosica’s pronouncement that the Holy Family was “irregular” in order to justify the homoheresy of the Synod on the Family; Pope Francis today at his audience contradicted the earlier reports by the Vatican English-language spokesman and Executive Director of Canada’s Pepper and Darkness Catholic Channel of No Hope and has pronounced the Holy Family was indeed, “regular.”
American audiences might find the posts inflammatory and perhaps uncharitable, but not legally actionable. In the United States, bloggers may say practically anything they want about a public figure. But this case is being brought in Canada, where Father Rosica is a priest, against a Canadian blogger.
A similar suit was brought by a Canadian priest against the Canadian news and opinion website LifeSiteNews. The priest accused LifeSiteNews of defaming him when they suggested he did not comply with Catholic teaching on abortion. The suit dragged on for several years and ended up costing LifeSiteNews more than $250,000. The suit only ended when the priest died unexpectedly.
Father Rosica is no stranger to intramural Catholic hostilities. He has criticized LifeSiteNews and other conservative Catholic outlets for what he considers their uncivil approach to public discourse. This came to a head when Cardinal O’Malley of Boston allowed, and even participated in, a public Mass of burial for Senator Edward Kennedy, who had been perhaps the most visible Catholic abortion supporter in the United States.
In their letter, Father Rosica’s lawyers say that Rosica “is incurring and has incurred damages as a result of the aforementioned false and defamatory statements. These damages include damages to his reputation, work and service to the church.” They charge that the blog posts have also caused Rosica’s television network to lose subscribers.
Rosica’s lawyers are demanding that the blogger “immediately and publicly retract all statements on the blog regarding Fr. Rosica and apologize to him on the blog.” If the demands are not met by February 22, “we will seek instructions to commence an action against you,” they state. They have given him five days to comply, but even if he does, the lawyers say they may still sue.
It is not clear at this point what the proprietor of Vox Cantoris will do. He identifies himself as a Catholic family man without the means to defend himself against such charges.
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