Source: The Guardian
Ever since his election as spiritual head of the Roman Catholic church in 2013, Pope Francis has always said he wants a church for the poor.
But two controversial new books describe a Vatican awash with cash that is woefully mismanaged, where senior officials pour church funds into their already-lavish apartments, and where even the office that researches candidates for sainthood has had its bank accounts frozen out of concerns about financial impropriety.
According to Gianluigi Nuzzi’s Merchants in the Temple, due to be published on Thursday, one high-ranking Vatican official, Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, was so keen on improving his apartment that he took it upon himself to knock down a wall separating his flat from his elderly neighbour’s. When the elderly priest returned from hospital, where he had been very ill, he found his things had been packed in boxes.
“As soon as he opened the door he realised something was wrong: his apartment had been modified, and was missing one room, but he was too old to fight back and seek justice,” Nuzzi wrote. The priest died a short time later. Sciacca was demoted a few months into Pope Francis’s tenure, with a new position at a tribunal that handles legal and administrative cases.
Nuzzi’s book is not the only publication to be raising eyebrows in Rome this week. Avarice, a work by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi also to be released on Thursday, delves into allegations of financial shenanigans, including an allegation that the Vatican’s former secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, used €200,000 (£142,000) from a foundation meant to support the Bambino Gesù paediatric hospital in Rome to renovate his own apartment. Under an agreement alleged in the book, the “mega-penthouse” could, in exchange, be used for hospital functions.