Timing is the enemy’s ally. The announcement of the two outstanding arrests in the Vatican, just a few hours after the two books – Greed by the journalist for L’Espresso Emiliano Fittipaldi, and Via Crucis by his colleague from Mediaset Gianluigi Nuzzi – had been published, becomes unexpected and unintentional advertising for the latter, forecasting huge profits.
Guilty of divulging news and confidential documents, according to the IX law of canon law, seem to be Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, former member of the Pontifical Commission referee on economic ministries of the Holy See, called by Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda himself, and the latter, Secretary of the Prefecture for economic affairs, since 2011, under the pontificate of Benedict XVI, and of the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA) of the Holy See, since 2013. He was appointed by Pope Francis with the specific task of collecting information on the financial management of the Vatican and report directly to the Pontiff. President of the Prefecture for economic affairs is the Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, a long-time friend of the former Secretary of State of the Holy See, the Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The “vultures” in San Peter’s “could be” Monsignor Balda and Chaouqui. Or at least, those are the faces we know so far. There might be more of them, hidden in the shadows.
Francesca Immacolata, who is assisted by the lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, was immediately released, and Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, stated that “they felt no need of precautionary measures, also due to her cooperation in the investigations”. She says she contributes to the judicial inquiry “and wishes to accompany the search of truth” and that the attitude of the judiciary “is not set in terms of accusation-defense”.
As to the position of monsignor Balda, the Vatican spokesperson declares that “its examination was entrusted to the Office of Promoter of Justice”. In the meanwhile, he is imprisoned in the Gendarmerie Palace where Paolo Gabriele, Pope Ratzinger’s steward was arrested three and a half years ago. That is, when began this horrible mess in the Vatican, which up to that moment, over the centuries, had been a stronghold of secrecy and confidentiality, and was suddenly capped off as a boiling pot of intrigues, deceit, betrayal, power wars, as well as direct and transversal retaliation, attacks on the Primate of the Catholic Church, the Vicar of Christ and the Bishop of Rome.
In any case, whoever is responsible, known or unknown, what happened is “a serious betrayal of trust granted by the Pope”, as we read in the Note of the Holy See.
” I am not a vulture. I have not betrayed the Pope. I have never given a document to anyone. Never to anyone. It will soon emerge, I am sure about it, and I completely trust the investigators. I have loved and defended the Church and the Pope more than anything else”, posts Francesca Immacolata on Twitter. She sounds tired on the phone. Her voice is broken due to consternation. “I am very tired,” she says. “It is a horrible story”. Tired, very tired, yet “serene”. “In the Vatican they tell me not to worry, the problem are newspapers”. She does not comment, does not give interviews, does not explain, does not find explanations. “In a couple of weeks, when the situation will be clearer, we will get back to this topic”. She asks for prayers.
The situation is not clear, quite the opposite, it is dark and murky. Vultures crowd around the Holy Dome. We know the names only of a few of them. And perhaps it is not even the right name. We cannot exclude that at the moment we can see only those who had walk-on parts, not the true protagonists of this sad story. This is how Secretary General of the Italian Bishops, Monsignor Nuncio Galantino, commented on the last events on Tv2000: “It is an attack on the Church, but I do not know where it is coming from. Surely someone fears the renovation process Pope Francis is carrying out”.
Monsignor Balda enjoyed Pope Francis’s extreme trust and was an important aide in the process of renovation. It is up to the investigators to shed light on whether he was the person who betrayed the Pontiff’s trust, who still says he is “embittered and disheartened” and, yesterday (Tuesday, November 3, 2015) during the reading of the Gospel, he recalled the biblical image of “poisonous snakes which attack people as they walk through the desert”.
A haunt of serpents, therefore, surrounds the Pope, along with a nest of vultures and, of course, also the doves.
This horrible story had certainly begun before Chaouqui’s arrival to the Vatican, with her appointment to such a delicate role which bothered many people inside and outside the sacred walls. The first woman manager in the State of the Holy See was very young: the little more than thirty year-old Italian-Egyptian boasted influential friends. Such as Giulio Andreotti, who sent her to Pavia Ansaldo, the countess Marisa Pinto Olori del Poggio, Enrico Letta and important adherents to Think Tank “Vedrò”. Such as the lobbyist Renato Bisignani. And the journalist Nuzzi. But also, with the Cardinals Tauran and Bertello, Pope Bergoglio’s “friends” and supporters of his reform of the Church.
The media more or less voluntary and important accomplices – off and on – of the internal struggles in ecclesiastical hierarchies, in some cases in alliance with the outside. Behind the journalists there are other people, their sources, powerful, authoritative, with authority. It is from a newspaper article that Vatileaks was born, precisely from a 2009 editorial which signed the beginning of a new “particular” method, especially in the ecclesiastic environments, of information/defamation: the Boffo method, that is, “a press campaign which aims at discrediting someone through real facts mixed up with lies”. The media talked about power wars in the Vatican between the Secretariat of State, at the time led by Cardinal Bertone, and the Italian Episcopal Conference, presided over by the Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
The marsh has now become a latrine in St. Peter’s. A slap in the face of transparency which was repeatedly invoked first by Pope Ratzinger, then by Pope Bergoglio, always.
Vatileaks burst out after another book by Nuzzi, Vatican spa, had been published in 2009, then a second one in 2012, His Holiness. On the occasion, Chaouqui commented with a tweet: “Letters will continue to leak and sacrificing Paolo Gabriele will prove to have been pointless”. Pope Benedict XVI granted grace to his assistant. And in his farewell speech, the Pontiff talked about “a Church which is sullied by personalisms and wars”.
For the celebration of All Saints’ Day at the Verano Cemetery, in Rome, also Pope Francis talked about “scandals which cause so much harm” and about the “disease of the people who seek insatiably to multiply their powers” and are “able to slander, defame, sneer the others also on magazines and newspapers”.
Subtraction and the leak of information and confidential documents is, in any case, a crime”. Besides ”there is no way it can contribute to establish transparency and truth; on the contrary, it generates confusion and partial and tendentious interpretations”, recites the Vatican Note. A strong message for those who believe they have acted in good faith, with the intention to help the Pope: they have only caused damage to the Holy Father and the Church.