The Vatican Gendarmerie has arrested and interrogated a senior Vatican official and a lay woman regarding "the removal and dissemination of news and confidential documents.” They are the Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Italian Francesca Chaouqui.
While the Italian woman was released, though not cleared, after cooperating with the investigation, the priest remains in prison.
Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda was formerly the number two official in the Prefecture for Economic Affairs. Pope Francis appointed him in July 2013 to coordinate the working group for reforming the Vatican's economic institutions and administrations. Francesca Chaouqui was a member of the commission.
A book will be published this week that likely includes recordings of Pope Francis speaking at closed door meetings of the working group.
This is how the monsignor explained the work Pope Francis entrusted to him.
MSGR. LUCIO ÁNGEL VALLEJO
Secretary, Prefecture for Economic Affairs
"We have a clear assignment from the Pope: full transparency and better management. I wouldn't say we need to be more austere, because the Holy See is already austere in general, but I would say we need to think more about our expenses; we need management to be more efficient, so that assets can be freed to use for more urgent things. It's what the Pope keeps on saying... and what he told us, too: when you have to make an extraordinary expense, think that many people are starving out there.”
While the investigation remains open, a Vatican spokesman said in a statement the book is a result of "a serious betrayal of trust granted by the Pope.” He warned that the authors are taking "advantage of a seriously unlawful act, (the) delivery of confidential documents.”
The spokesman added that these types of publications "do not contribute in any way to establish clarity and truth, but rather to create confusion and partial and tendentious interpretations” and that they hurt the Pope's work.
The incident is reminiscent of the 2012 "Vatileaks” case, when Pope Benedict XVI's butler stole and disseminated secret documents belonging to his boss. He was later sentenced to 18 months in prison, though the Pope pardoned him and gave him a new position.