Pope Francis says leaks won’t deter him from reform agenda

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Pope Francis waves during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on Nov. 8, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis waves during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on Nov. 8, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Sunday (Nov. 8) broke his silence over the leaking of confidential Vatican documents, which he described as a “deplorable act” that will not stand in the way of his ambitious reform agenda.

Speaking to followers in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff criticized revelations made in two books published last week that explore Francis’ efforts to overhaul financial mismanagement within the Vatican walls.

“Stealing those documents was a crime. It’s a deplorable act that does not help,” the pope said, adding that the leaked information was based on a study he had personally requested.

“I wish to reassure you that this sad event certainly does not deter me from the reform project that we are carrying out, together with my advisers and with the support of all of you,” said Francis, telling his followers they should not be upset by recent events.

READBooks detail behind-the-scenes battle to reform Vatican finances

His comments follow the arrest last weekend (Oct. 31-Nov. 1) of a Spanish priest, the Rev. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, and an Italian public relations executive, Francesca Chaouqui, accused of being involved in leaking confidential information. The duo had been appointed by the pope to a temporary commission set up in 2013 to reform the Vatican bureaucracy.

The challenges faced by the commission in seeking to gather information on spending at the Holy See administration, known as the Curia, were outlined in two books based on secret audio recordings and documents handed over to the authors.

Both Gianluigi Nuzzi’s “Merchants in the Temple” and Emiliano Fittipaldi’s “Avarice,” describe a prevailing culture of waste and secrecy within the Curia that has hampered Francis’ reform efforts. While both books outline mismanagement at the heart of the Vatican, the pontiff is afforded an air of sympathy for his attempts to bring financial discipline to the Holy See.

But during his homily at Friday Mass the pope appeared to take aim at those within the Catholic Church whose greed has been highlighted by the two authors.

“In the church, too, there are these kinds of people, who instead of serving, of thinking of others, of laying the foundations, are served by the church: ‘climbers,’ those who are attached to money,” the pontiff said.

There has been speculation that the two books could damage Francis as a previous leak hurt his predecessor Pope Benedcit XVI. In 2012, Benedict’s aide, Paolo Gabriele, was jailed over the theft of documents but later pardoned. The scandal is thought to have contributed to Benedict’s decision to resign in February 2013.

Others argue Francis may emerge as the victor in the reform battle.

Paul Vallely, author of “Pope Francis: Untying the Knots,” said the scandal “portrays Francis in a good light,” even amid embarrassing chapters.

“That is proof of his determination to bring change, not evidence of the opposite,” Vallely wrote in The Guardian.

Shawn Tully, an editor at large at Fortune, said Nuzzi’s text in particular “shows the the pope does far more than establish a general tone of frugality.

“He knows precisely what disciplined and sophisticated financial management is all about … he’s impossible to fool,” Tully wrote in Fortune.


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  • observer

    Secret documents? Are they drawing up war plans to obliterate the Orthodox, level the Lutherans, annihilate the Anglicans, bomb the Baptist, conquer the Calvinist or plunder the Pentecost? Secrecy is part of the reason the pedophilia sex scandals became so wide spread.

    If there is any attempt at permanent and meaningful reform, then a transparent institution with democratic principles and a basis solely on the New Testament of the Bible is needed.

  • Pope Francis is correct in continuing his reform agenda for the Catholic Church, despite the illegal leaks of confidential information to two book authors by two Vatican employees.

    Pope Francis’s reforms — in just the two years that he has been pope — have already resulted in the greatest revival of Catholicism in modern times.

    He must be commended for his humility and his persistent efforts to improve the lives of poor people.

  • Betty Clermont

    The pope’s “reform” is replacing the old crooks with his own: Cardinal Pell whose only prior financial expertise was cheating sexual abuse victims out of an adequate compensation and was termed a “sociopath” for his cruelty. The pope hired consultants like Promontory and Big Four accountants who had guided the largest financial companies in skirting regulations and hiding their transactions which brought about the Great Recession.
    The pope’s other “reform” is instituting standard accounting procedures, not to make Vatican finances transparent to the public but so that he would know where all his money was.
    Another “reform” was encouraging his prelates to give the appearance of a “poor Church” while maintaining and prospering their hidden assets and giving a pittance to the poor.

  • Bernardo


    Ditto your comments but keep in mind that the NT is not a reliable document. Rigorous historic testing shows it to be 10-30% authentic.

  • Dr.Cajetan Coelho

    Thus wrote Victor Hugo: All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

  • Bernardo

    Also from Hugo:

    Ces deux moitiés de Dieu, le pape et l’empereur! These two halves of God, the Pope and the emperor. Hernani (1830), Act IV, Scene II

    Dieu s’est fait homme; soit. Le diable s’est fait femme! God became a man, granted. The devil became a woman. Ruy Blas (1838), Act II, Scene V