By Elise Harris
The two Italian journalists who made headlines last week for authoring books on confidential Vatican financial documents are under investigation, and could face criminal charges.
In a Nov. 10 statement, the Vatican announced that journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi are currently being investigated for publishing the books, which contain leaked information from a former Vatican financial reform commission.
The investigation follows the arrest of two former members of the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA).
The commission was established by the Pope July 18, 2013, as part of his plan to reform the Vatican’s finances. It was dissolved after completing its mandate.
Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Chaouqui – both former members of the commission – were taken into custody last week by the Vatican Gendarmerie for stealing and leaking information in connection with two books.
Information from the leaked COSEA documents was used for Nuzzi’s book “Via Crucis,” released in English under the title “Merchants in the Temple,” and Fittipaldi’s book “Avarice: The Papers that Reveal Wealth, Scandals and Secrets in the Church of Francis.”
According to the Vatican statement, the journalists are being investigated for violating Law IX of the Vatican City State, which was established July 13, 2013, and holds that stealing confidential documents is a crime punishable with time in prison.
The leaking of documents was officially criminalized by the Vatican in 2013, when Nuzzi published a book containing confidential information given to him by Pope Benedict XVI’s butler in what came to be known as the “Vatileaks” scandal.
The Vatican statement made known that others who, due to their position, could be complicit in having acquired the documents in question, are also being investigated, though no names were given.
On Sunday Pope Francis spoke out about the leak for the first time, saying the act does little to help his ongoing reform efforts, but assured that the process would continue to move forward.
The stealing and publication of the documents was a “mistake,” and “a deplorable act that does not help,” the Pope said Nov. 8, explaining that he had called for the study connected with the confidential documents, with which he was well acquainted.
In his post-Angelus comments, Francis acknowledged that many have been “troubled” by the news of the scandal in recent days.
Nonetheless, he offered his assurances that his reform would move forward.
“This sad fact certainly does not deter me from the reform efforts which we are pushing forward with my collaborators and with the support of all of you,” he said, stressing the importance of prayer for the Church.
The support of the entire Church is needed, he said, “because the Church is renewed with prayer and with daily holiness of every baptized person.”
“Therefore I thank you and ask you to continue to pray for the Pope and for the Church, without losing peace, but moving forward with faith and hope.”