Earlier this month, the Vatican arrested two individuals on charges of stealing and leaking confidential Vatican information: Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, 54, a Spanish official and Francesca Chaouqui, 33, an Italian public relations specialist. Both of these individuals had served on the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA). COSEA was formed in 2103 by Pope Francis to reform Vatican finances, but once the Vatican bureaucracy was reformed, the commission was dissolved and now no longer exists. According to EWTN, it is alleged that the two individuals used their positions (Msgr. Balda as secretary and Chaouqui as a member) to gain access to the confidential information that they later leaked. According to a press release from the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Gendarmerie (police) took the two into custody after questioning each of them regarding their potential involvement individually.
These arrests come right before the publication of two books, each allegedly containing the information that was leaked from the Vatican. According to CAN, the books are The Papers that Reveal Wealth, Scandals and Secrets in the Church of Francis and Via Crucis. They were written by Italian journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, respectively. The books reportedly contain leaked information about the resistance that Pope Francis has faced from within the the Vatican as he tries to carry out an agenda of reform, specifically, reform relating to the governance of the Church.
It should also be noted that this is not the first time Gianluigi Nuzzi has been in the spotlight of a Vatican leaks controversy. Nuzzi was involved in the 2012 leaking of confidential Vatican information when he published confidential letters and memos from the desk of Pope Benedict XVI in his book, His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, a book that gained him worldwide attention. The leaked letters published in his book came to be called “Vatileaks” named after the Wikileaks website that was launched in 2006, containing confidential US government documents, but had since gained international media attention.
Since the arrests, the Vatican has said that the publishing of leaked information is a “serious betrayal of trust that the Pope has placed with certain individuals.” They also stated that it was pursuing possible prosecution for the authors of the books. The Vatican added that they are currently in communication with the Prosecutor’s Office and are exploring both potential legal and penal measures against the authors and the authors’ potential sources.
According to EWTN, the Vatican released Chaouqui after spending a short period of time in jail in exchange for her cooperation with the ongoing investigation and willingness to help as the investigation progressed. Msgr. Balda remains in prison and his case is still under investigation by the police and Vatican officials.
While this case is still ongoing and the final results are yet to be seen it is of concern to the Vatican that the same issue has arisen twice in such a short time. The Holy See has always been secretive, but with the secrets they work so hard to protect being repeatedly stolen the procedures and security measures taken by the Vatican to protect said secrets may have to be reevaluated.