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Vatican official mentioned in story on Vatican corruption is given new assignment

Catholic World News - February 22, 2013

An influential official at the Vatican Secretariat of State has received a new assignment abroad, just days after his name was mentioned in a report alleging factionalism and corruption at the Vatican.

Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, the Undersecretary for Relations with States (roughly equivalent to a deputy foreign minister), has been named apostolic nuncio to Colombia. He will become an archbishop as he takes his new assignment.

Msgr. Balestrero’s name was prominently mentioned in a sensational story in the Italian daily La Repubblica about the “Vatileaks” scandal. As the Vatican’s chief negotiator in talks with European banking officials, Msgr. Balestrero was caught up in a heated intramural debate about Vatican procedures for ensuring transparency in financial transactions. The sharp differences among members of the Roman Curia were reportedly cited by a commission of investigating cardinals as one motivation for the unauthorized leaks of confidential Vatican correspondence.

However Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, denied that the new assignment for Msgr. Balestrero was connected with new reports on the “Vatileaks” investigation. The Vatican spokesman reminded reporters that the appointment of an apostolic nuncio is a time-consuming matter, since it entails obtaining approval from the government of the country to which he will be posted. “The procedure for this nomination was started some time ago,” Father Lombardi said. Moreover, he noted, the appointment as apostolic nuncio is a promotion; Msgr. Balestrero will become an archbishop.

While it may be noteworthy that an important Vatican official has been transferred so close to the end of the pontificate, the appointment itself would ordinarily not be at all remarkable. In fact Msgr. Balestrero will be following almost exactly in the footsteps of his predecessor. When he assumed his current post at the Secretariat of State in August 2009, he replaced Archbishop-elect Pietro Parolin, who had been given a new assignment as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela.

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