In dealing with a butler who leaked documents about corruption inside corruption -among other issues- to a journalist, the Holy See decided to adopt what spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi called “unprecedented transparency,” bringing the case to public trial and allowing a small number of journalists to be present.
The leaked documents revealed, for example, that when former second-highest-ranking administrator to Benedict XVI, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, took office in 2009, he discovered corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to outside companies at inflated prices.
He took drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures, upsetting other Vatican officials. In one of the leaked documents, he begged not to be transferred as punishment for exposing alleged corruption in the awarding of contracts.
The result? Vigano is now in Washington as the Vatican’s U.S. ambassador.
Other documents leaked by the butler, Paolo Gabriele, related to the Vatican’s bank, famous for being regularly embroiled in scandals, including “bribery money for political parties, Mafia money-laundering and, repeatedly, anonymous accounts,” as the German magazine Der Spiegel and other media have reported.
A recent case included anonymous accounts and communications showing how Church banking officials circumvent European anti-money-laundering regulations, according to investigations by Italian authorities.
Though the Vatican’s top banking official, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was eventually fired, the Vatican initially reacted by expressing “full confidence” in him and later condemned the seizure of “sovereign” documents by Italian authorities.
So, on one side of the balance, we have reportedly inflated-price contracts and church officials allegedly using anonymous bank accounts and violating anti-money-laundering regulations. On the other side, we have a whistle-blower seeking to expose corruption in the Vatican.
Which “problem” requires punishment and to be made an example of -to deter recurrences- ultimately depends on one’s standing on these issues. The Vatican chose to throw “unprecedented transparency” on the whistle-blower. It also chose to send Vigano away and to aggressively criticize the Italian authorities’ investigation, making it very clear where the church stands on corruption issues.
In that, at least, the Vatican choices are certainly transparent.
— Hazel Feigenblatt
— Photo credit: European Parliament