A TOP Italian anti-Mafia magistrate was brought out of retirement last week to head a criminal probe into financial corruption in the Holy See.
The appointment of Giuseppe Pignatone, above, to head the investigation came after Msgn Mauro Carlino, head of documentation at the Vatican Secretariat of State, and four lay officials were suspended two days earlier following raids carried out on the administrative section of the Secretariat of State and The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF).
Edward Pentin, Rome correspondent for The National Catholic Register explained the background to the raid in this video. He said property deals, including one involving a property bought in London for around a 160-million euro, will come under scrutiny.
He described the raids as “a judicial tsunami.”
Vatican prosecutors seized documents, computers, telephones and passports and blocked bank accounts in Tuesday’s raid Secretariat of State, the Church’s central governing body.
Th AIF is the Vatican’s anti-money-laundering watchdog.
A Vatican statement on Tuesday said the promoter of justice of Vatican City Court, Gian Piero Milano, and Alessandro Diddi, adjunct promoter of justice, ordered the search after complaints in early summer from the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) — commonly called the Vatican Bank — and the Office of the Auditor General about financial transactions “carried out over time.”
According to Italian media reports, those transactions revolve around expensive property deals, primarily a 2013 multimillion-euro real estate transaction in London’s prestigious Mayfair district, which is said to have suffered significant losses.
The documents seized reportedly relate to the years 2011 to 2018, the period when Cardinal Angelo Becciu, now the prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was sostituto, the official responsible for the administrative affairs of the Secretariat of State.In a bid to put a positive gloss on the raids, the Vatican said in an unsigned editorial in L’Osservatore Romano that:
The painful events made public this week are not a sign the system has failed.
Rather they show the system has “developed antibodies capable of reacting” and that the process of reforming Vatican finances is “well underway.”
But in the same editorial, the Vatican chastised the media for subjecting the five suspended officials to “pillory”, as:
Any possible responsibility on their part is still to be proven.
It said a Vatican investigation will determine how that information was leaked, but omitted to mention that the names were distributed internally to all Vatican staff.
Said Penton in his National Catholic Register report:
Pignatone’s reputation as a leading Italian chief prosecutor, who has handled major investigations into the Cosa Nostra and ’Ndrangheta organised crime gangs in Sicily and Calabria, points to the extent of financial corruption needing investigation in the Vatican.
Pignatone replaces Giuseppe Dalla Torre, who oversaw two “Vatileaks” trials, one involving the leaking of documents by Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler and the second relating to a priest and lay official working in Vatican finances.
Dalla Torre was also involved in the prosecution of the former President of the Bambino Gesu, the Vatican’s children’s hospital, that also has been embroiled in a web of corruption allegations.
The Register was told that the main target of this week’s raid was not primarily the five suspended officials, nor the current leadership in the Secretariat of State, but rather others who have since left the dicastery and whose past actions continue to be subject to scrutiny.
An informed source told the Register that:
This raid was not against the current sostituto, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, who is striving to perform a clean-up of the mess he has inherited in the general affairs section administrative offices, but, rather, his predecessor, Cardinal Becciu, and his administrative right-hand man, Msg Alberto Perlasca