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Leaked documents expose Vatican financial scandal

October 21, 2019

Using leaked Vatican documents, the Italian journal L’Espresso has revealed details of unauthorized financial transactions, concluding that “the Holy See is facing a scandal that has few precedents in recent history.”

The Vatican Secretariat of State engaged in “reckless speculative operations,” using over $700 million that was taken from the worldwide Peter’s Pence collection, L’Espresso reports. The off-books investments eventually led to an October 1 raid by Vatican prosecutors on the offices of the Secretariat of State.

A memorandum from those prosecutors, which was obtained by L’Espresso, reports “serious indications of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, money laundering, and self-money laundering.”

L’Espresso also provides details of a controversial London real-estate transaction, in which the Secretariat of State invested alongside an Italian speculator, Raffaele Mincione. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who at the time was the sostituto or deputy secretary of state, reportedly established the connection with Mincione.

In 2016, then-Archbishop Becciu blocked a bid by Cardinal George Pell for a full outside audit of all Vatican offices. The following year, Becciu forced the resignation of the Vatican’s own auditor-general, Libero Milone.

According to L’Espresso, Father Mauro Carlino, who at the time was secretary to Archbishop Becciu, was also directly involved with the unauthorized investments. Father Carlino is one of five Vatican officials who were suspended after the July 1 police raid. Cardinal Becciu, who received his red hat from Pope Francis last June, is now prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In the July 1 raid, Vatican police took documents and electronic devices from the offices of the Secretariat of State and the Financial Information Authority (AIF). It is not clear what role the AIF played in the investment scheme. Tomasso di Ruzza, the director of the AIF, was also suspended after the police raid.

The Vatican has not yet issued an explanation of the extraordinary raid, except to say that the police were seeking evidence in connection with an investigation launched because of concerns raised by the offices of the Vatican bank and the auditor general.

During the period under investigation, the Secretariat of State apparently managed over $700 million brought in by the Peter’s Pence collection, without oversight. The Peter’s Pence collection, taken up each year in Catholic churches around the world, is intended to fund the Pope’s charities.

“Hundreds of millions of Euro destined for the least and the poor are still administered opaquely and with no transparency, as if the Vatican were a merchant bank in an offshore country,” the report claims,” L’Espresso reported.

The story in L’Espresso was written by Emiliano Fittipaldi, who was one of the investigative journalists involved in the second “Vatileaks” trial in 2016. He and Gianluigi Nuzzi were charged by prosecutors with soliciting Vatican employees to steal confidential documents. But a Vatican tribunal acquitted the journalists on the grounds that because their actions did not occur inside Vatican City, they were not subject to the tribunal’s jurisdiction.


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 22, 2019 5:27 PM ET USA

    Is this what is actually meant by the "preferential option for the poor"? I continue to stand by my preferred option: a preferential option for the wealthy. In this option the wealthy would be specially counseled on how to live as Catholics and how to use their wealth to build up rather than tear down the Universal Church. Believe it or not, there are honorable Catholic charities deserving of our support. Although I worship within the "institutional church," my charitable giving is not blind.

  • Posted by: jan02 - Oct. 21, 2019 11:37 PM ET USA

    Who will be hurt the most by this? The poor. People whose faith is wavering in the onslaught of scandals within the Church. People who choose not to become Catholic because of all these scandals. Come Holy Spirit and have Mercy.

  • Posted by: gbrisebois1656 - Oct. 21, 2019 6:40 PM ET USA

    I won't give a Pence to Peter while Francis is Pope.

  • Posted by: shrink - Oct. 21, 2019 4:03 PM ET USA

    Money laundering, swanky London properties. My my. Is it all about the poor?…. really? Our poor Pope Francis, who is surrounded by a den of thieves, all hand-picked by…. Bergoglio. Perhaps our Pope Francis doth protest too much. Perhaps he is our first Pope Judas.