Thursday of this week, the Vatican announced the sudden removal of the president of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), otherwise referred to as "The Vatican Bank."
Apparently the Board voted unanimously of “no confidence” in Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Anticipating the decision, he resigned. Gotti Tedeschi, whose primary job is head of Spain's Banco Santander's Italian unit in Milan, is also being investigated for leaking IOR confidential documents to investors. The Holy See is heading into a July meeting of Moneyval, a Council of Europe committee that will determine whether it has complied with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing. Moneyval investigators have been looking at the transparency of IOR’s finances. Gotti Tedeschi is faulted for not keeping the board of superintendents apprised of the work of the bank, among other failings.
Although he was appointed to the position just over two years ago, rumor had it that Mr. Gotti was a pawn in the strategic moves of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. Pope Benedict wanted Gotti to clean up the bank which has been the sources of controversy in terms of the transparency of its financial dealings.
Meanwhile, the Vatican Gendarmerie, headed by General Domenico Giani, claims to have identified the person who allegedly is the source of the leak of about one hundred of Pope Benedict’s personal documents to the Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, who used them to publish a book called “His Holiness,” released in Italy last Saturday.
The controversial book seeks to give credence to rumors swirling in and around the Vatican. Some see the book as a direct attack on the Pope. The book seems to suggest that Pope Benedict was wrong in his choice of Cardinal Bertone as Secretary of State and that he was wrong not to force his resignation.
Many are troubled that someone would have leaked documents which were supposedly reserved to the Holy Father and related to particularly sensitive matters. Most of the documents relate to Italian affairs although documents related to the alleged cover-up of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, are mentioned. Vatican finances, the Pope’s personal account number at the Vatican Bank, some of Cardinal Bertone’s dealings, the group known as “Communion and Liberation,” the Jesuits, scandals at the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Italian politics, and the traditionalist Society of Pope Pius X, founded by French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, also feature.
The pope's butler Paolo Gabriele, was arrested in Vatican City on Friday, suspected of leaking the documents. It is said he had been under surveillance for weeks and was caught red-handed with documents he should not have had. Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed to Italian news service Ansa that Gabriele had been found "in illegal possession of confidential documents."
Gabriele is in the custody of the Vatican's secretive judicial system, which is separate from the Italian judicial system. His arrest took place just hours after Gotti Tedeschi was ousted for allegedly "failing to fulfill the primary functions of his office."
One of the abiding memories I have of my time in Rome and my (albeit limited) contacts with two Vatican Cardinals is the amount of gossip generated in such a relatively small operation as is the Vatican state. It strikes me as interesting that the two people involved in this week’s news are laymen. I find it strange that the Pope’s “butler,” apparently well liked and trusted in the Vatican household, would have been in a position to choose and leak specific selected documents which, in their totality, seem to make a strong case against the judgment of the Pope and which would seem to serve to fuel whatever rivalry exists between former Secretary of State and current Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano and the current Secretary of State, Cardianl Bertone. The Vatican says that Nuzzi's book is criminal and has warned that it intends to take legal action.