Vatican begins criminal probe into leaks to Italian press
Information describes alleged corruption, mismanagement
The "Vatileaks" scandals, where embarrassing details about the Vatican's inner workings have been leaked to the Italian media, have uncovered stories of alleged corruption, mismanagement and internal conflicts. In response, the Vatican has launched a criminal probe into the unauthorized release of confidential documents.
The "Vatileaks" scandal has dominated the columns of Italian newspapers and magazines and has been the subject of TV programs.
The leak of a string of highly sensitive internal documents from inside the Vatican's Secretariat of State, including personal letters to Pope Benedict XVI, are a clear embarrassment to the pope.
Pope Benedict is "serene, but saddened" at the revelations, a top church official told newspaper reporters.
The Vatican newspaper blamed unidentified members of the Roman Curia, the men who run the international headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, for the leaks.
In addition to the criminal investigation, the pope has ordered a separate administrative enquiry to try to determine the source of the leaks.
The investigation would cover every branch of the Vatican administration.
Among the leaked documents is a letter to Pope Benedict by the Vatican's current ambassador to Washington alleging cronyism, nepotism and corruption among the administrators of Vatican City.
Others concern poison pen memos criticizing Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pope's number two, and the reporting of suspicious payments by the Vatican Bank.
The scandal, coupled with the rare threat to punish the perpetrators within the Vatican's own legal system of criminal and administrative sanctions has come at a delicate time for the Vatican, which is seeking to win European approval for its efforts to ensure its finances are transparent and that its laws to fight money laundering and terror financing meet international norms.
A team of inspectors from the Council of Europe recently wrapped up a three-day visit to the Holy See to review its compliance with norms required by the Financial Action Task Force, the Paris-based policy making body that helps develop anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing legislation.
It was the second such visit, part of an evaluation process that will culminate in early July when the Vatican learns if it has complied with the FATF's 49 recommendations, which cover everything from customer due diligence in banking institutions to freezing and confiscating terrorist assets.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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