National Catholic Reporter

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Vatican announces investigations into document leaks

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has established a commission to investigate a series of leaks of letters exchanged among Vatican officials and between the officials and the pope himself.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state, said March 16 that the papal commission would try "to shed light on the whole affair," while a Vatican tribunal would look into taking legal action against those who gave the documents to reporters, and the Vatican Secretariat of State would carry out an administrative review of every Vatican office.

While some of the leaked letters are gossipy, others include allegations of serious financial misconduct.

The leaks being investigated by the Vatican began in January with the publication of letters written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano when he was secretary-general of the Governor's Office of Vatican City State. The archbishop, who now is nuncio to the United States, warned of corruption, abuse of power, a lack of transparency in awarding contracts and opposition to financial reforms.

Later leaks included a letter from a Vatican official questioning the current reform of the Vatican's finance laws and letters from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan arguing over control of a Catholic hospital.

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An interview with Becciu about the investigation into the leaks -- a case popularly referred to as "VatiLeaks" in the media -- was published March 16 by L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

The archbishop called those leaking documents "cowardly" and "disloyal," and he said the pope was pained by the whole affair.

With the investigations, he said, it is hoped that an atmosphere of "mutual trust" can be restored within the Vatican.

Meanwhile, the Vatican announced Saturday that experts from the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, known as Moneyval, visited the Vatican March 14-16 for talks about the Vatican's recent adoption of new finance laws and procedures to meet with tighter international standards.

The experts' report is scheduled to be presented to Moneyval's general assembly in July.

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