Wiretaps of the Pope’s private conversations allegedly recorded by a racy social climber and a Spanish prelate are rocking the Catholic Church after confidential information including claims of theft and debauchery was passed to investigative journalists.
Two books by the investigative journalists set to be published Wednesday claim charity money was allegedly spent on refurbishing the houses of powerful cardinals, while the murky Vatican bank continues to shelter suspected criminals.
Suspected moles — PR expert Francesca Chaouqui and Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda — arrested at the weekend for allegedly stealing and leaking classified documents, risk up to eight years in prison if the case gets to court.
There was no official confirmation they had passed confidential information to journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, but the Vatican on Tuesday published a statement on the arrests which also slammed the books.
While Vallejo Balda languishes in jail, Chaouqui, 33, was released after assuring investigators of her cooperation in a case which has thrown light on Pope Francis’s struggles to clean up a centuries-old institution unwilling to give up its privileges.