ROME — A former Vatican official who has confessed to passing confidential Vatican financial documents to two journalists says that he felt pressured to do so in part by the woman at the heart of a burgeoning scandal known as “Vatileaks 2.0.”

Spanish Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, former secretary of a commission set up by Pope Francis in 2013 to get a handle on the Vatican’s financial situation, said during testimony at a Vatican court hearing on Tuesday that he never felt menaced by the journalists, but did feel under pressure from Francesca Chaoqui, an Italian PR consultant also on trial for the Vatileaks affair.

Vallejo, together with his personal aide Nicola Maio and Chaouqui, are accused of forming a conspiracy to pass documents from the commission to Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi.

The two investigative reporters, authors of the books “Merchants in the Temple” and “Avarice” based partly on those documents, are charged with using untoward means to obtain the information.

The books detail millions of euros in lost potential rental income from the Vatican’s real estate holdings, millions in missing inventory from the Vatican’s tax-free stores, the exorbitant costs for getting someone declared a saint, and the greed of bishops and cardinals lusting after huge apartments.

The affair is known as “Vatileaks 2.0” in reference to another Vatican leaks scandal under Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, which ended with the conviction and then pardon of the pope’s former butler.

The current trial was suspended last November to allow technical experts to reconstruct a series of electronic messages among the accused parties, and judges resumed taking testimony on Monday.

On the first day of testimony Monday, Vallejo admitted that he was the one who leaked the documents to the journalists, but said he had done so “spontaneously, probably not fully lucid.”

He also testified that he’d shared the confidential information because he was afraid of Chaouqui and her husband, Corrado Lanino, who served as an IT consultant for the papal commission.

“I was convinced I was in a situation without exit,” Vallejo said Monday.

Vallejo acknowledged that he had somewhat fallen for Chaouqui, saying he felt “compromised” as a priest after one evening when she entered his hotel room in Florence. Vallejo’s lawyer said Chaouqui had a “seductive personality.”

Vallejo explained how he increasingly became terrorized by Chaouqui, saying she and her husband sent increasingly aggressive and threatening text messages, especially after the reform commission wrapped up in 2015 and Chaouqui was left without work.

Vallejo said he ascertained with “moral certainty” that Chaouqui mingled in a “dangerous world” of Italian power brokers and had ulterior interests. He testified that she repeatedly told him she worked for Italy’s secret services and once claimed to be arranging a meeting for a visiting US President Barack Obama.

Vallejo said when he decided to cut her off, “I felt as if my physical safety was in danger.”

During Tuesday’s cross-examination, Vallejo said that he had never received “direct or concrete threats” from Fittipaldi and Nuzzi. As he was being questioned by Nuzzi’s lawyer, Roberto Palombi, the cleric said he was suspicious of the journalist because of his relationship with Chaouqui.

“I was able to interpret some of Nuzzi’s requests for information as a threat because he was professionally very close” to the PR consultant, Vallejo said.

When asked if he felt threatened, Vallejo said the “direct threats came from Francesca Chaouqui, but not from the two journalists.” But, he added, they were all “part of the same group.”

Nuzzi wasn’t at the Vatican trial Monday and Tuesday because he was facing unrelated charges in an Italian court in Milan for calumny, defamation, and illegally obtaining information in 2010 for a TV expose about a large Italian supermarket chain.

In that trial, Nuzzi and two others were found guilty and sentenced to 9 months in prison, although he remains free on parole.

The Vatican trial will resume Friday; testimony is also scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday. However, Chaouqui, who is four months pregnant, has requested a delay since she has to undergo a surgical procedure in the next few days to avoid a premature birth.

The hearings will be suspended during Easter, but the head of the Vatican tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, has scheduled more sessions from March 30 to April 2.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.