Benedict XVI received in audience on June 16 the investigatory commission that is charged with shedding light on the scandal of leaks at the Vatican. Set up in late April of this year and composed of three retired cardinals, the Spaniard Julian Herranz, the Slovak Josef Tomko and the Italian Salvatore De Giorgi, all three more than 80 years old, the commission can interrogate whomever it wants among the 2,843 persons working for the Curia and the 2,001 employed by the Governorate (the administration of the Vatican City State). It alone, for example, can interrogate other cardinals. Although this meeting was made public, no information about it has filtered out.
The investigation is continuing also on the penal level. Having been assigned to the case, the Vatican police and judiciary on June 6 questioned at length Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s majordomo (valet), who is accused of “aggravated theft” (see DICI no. 256 dated June 8, 2012). To this day he remains the only suspect who has been arrested. According to the findings of the initial interrogations, the Italian press reports, he is said to have stolen the pope’s correspondence from the desk of the personal secretary of Benedict XVI, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, and to have photocopied it so as to forward it to someone outside, or to an accomplice inside the Vatican. For the Transalpine media, however, Paolo Gabriele is only a “scapegoat”. According to several central European sources, it appears certain that several cardinals are at the bottom of these leaks and that the valet only delivered some letters for other persons who later exploited them and made them public. These allegations were swiftly refuted by Fr. Federico Lombardi. The Director of the Vatican Press Office in particular denied on June 11, 2012, the information published that same morning by three major daily newspapers, claiming that two cardinals and five laymen, one a journalist, figured among the suspects. “There may be some plausible information, but I caution you about the numbers,” he warned. Fr. Lombardi acknowledged that the investigation was being pursued “slowly”. But he noted that this was the sign of a “scrupulous process” on the part of the Vatican judiciary.
Among the cardinals regularly cited in the Italian press, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who directed the Secretariat of State of the Holy See for 16 years under John Paul II, said that he was surprised by the “insinuations about various maneuvers”. In an interview published on the front page of the June 6, 2012, issue of L’Osservatore Romano, the dean of the College of Cardinals explained that “a variety of opinions does not mean divisions.” “By personal experience I can assure you that the commitment to form a genuine work community in the service of the Pope is the rule of the Roman Curia and of the Governorate,” Cardinal Sodano confided, acknowledging however that “in such a large community someone can sometimes fail in his duties.” Although the press reports latent conflicts between him and the current Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Roman prelate emphasized his “long-time closeness” with his successor, noting that he is “happy to collaborate” when he can.
For his part, Gianluigi Nuzzi (on the picture), the journalist who publicized the Vatican leaks in his book, Sua Santità [His Holiness: The secret papers of Benedict XVI], published by Chiarelettere (not yet available in English) has spoken up in the French press. In an interview that appeared on June 7 in the magazine Le Pèlerin, he defends the reliability of his work, hoping in particular that “the divulging of these documents will make it possible to introduce more transparency behind those high walls.” The Transalpine journalist says little, however, about the sources of the leaks, except that they are “Catholics who have worked at the Vatican for years in a spirit of fidelity to the Pope and to the Church”. He claims to have met “around ten of them, but perhaps there are twice as many.” These would be “genuine believers who no longer support the hypocrisy that they have witnessed at the summit [i.e. in the highest-ranking positions] of the Church. One of them, for example, went into a veritable rage when he discovered several sumptuous expenditures, such as the 2009 Christmas crèche on Saint Peter’s Square, which cost 550,000 Euros. Another told me not to be afraid; he said that he was acting with the ‘serenity of the just’.” When asked whether the scandal that it had caused disturbed him, he retorted that a “book can make a situation develop,” and that he has “a conscience that is quite clear,” since he “did nothing illegal” and he only “processed information”. Thus he explains that he carried out a patient task of verifying and cross-checking so as to provide the context for his revelations.
The Italian journalist denies that he is trying to wrong the Church and asserts that he has “infinite respect” for Benedict XVI. “Furthermore,” he says, “the Vatican and the Church are two very distinct realities: what is there in common between an ambitious Roman prelate… and devout parishioners who get together to buy a photocopier? Since the publication of Sua Santità, I have been receiving messages of encouragement from many Catholics. I am sure that my grandparents, who used to come to ring the church bells each Sunday, would be proud of me.” Finally, he defends the pope’s valet, expressing astonishment that anyone would “place in isolation a peaceful individual who is simply accused of having made off with some papers.”
Having been publicly faulted by these “papers”, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Vatican, spoke up on June 21 in the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana. He said that he is “at the center of the melee” and acknowledged that “these matters were a painful experience” for him, although he received much support in the “real Church”. According to the Roman prelate, “there is a tenacious and repeated attempt to separate, to create divisions between the Holy Father and his collaborators.” He blamed “many journalists for inventing fables, for playing Dan Brown,” the author of The Da Vinci Code, who imagined that the Holy See was at the heart of numerous conspiracies. Returning also to the dismissal of the president of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), Ettore Gotti Tedeschi on May 25 (see DICI no. 256), Cardinal Bertone declared that “his termination was not due to internal doubts as to the desire for transparency (in managing the bank), but rather to a deterioration of the relations among the counselors, because of differences.”
These differences are confirmed by the number-two man at the Vatican Bank, Paolo Cipriani. He reveals that his former president “did not take things in hand; it was as though he was absent, even when he was there.” In an interview published by the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera on June 10, 2012, he asserted that “sometimes he came to the president’s office, which is detached from the rest of the Institute, and said nothing, then he left.” Moreover, in his personal documentation that was seized by the Italian police, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi allegedly admitted that he had been dismissed as a result of his demands for clarification about the open accounts at the IOR belonging to several Italian politicians. Paolo Cipriani rejects this version of the facts; on the contrary he blames the president for having remained deaf to his appeals for a serious investigation of the issue. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi “preferred to know nothing,” he assured the interviewer concerning his former superior. (Sources : apic/imedia/Pèlerin/Reuter/AFP – DICI no. 257 dated June 22, 2012)