- Jun 1, 2020
In the latest hearing of the Vatican’s first-ever trial for financial crimes, an official of the Government of the Vatican City State said that a controversial remodeling project for the private apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, bypassed the normal competitive bidding process and was “singular ” and “anomalous.”
On the second full day of testimony in the Vatican’s first-ever trial for alleged financial crimes, one of the defendants told the court he was informed there should be “no problems” with spending money from a children’s hospital on remodeling an Italian cardinal’s private apartment, because that cardinal had spoken personally to Pope Francis and “clarified” the situation.
As the latest major Vatican criminal trial resumed on Tuesday, judges seemed to challenge claims by the main defendant that spending $500,000 from funds belonging to a papally-sponsored children’s hospital to remodel the private apartment of a Vatican cardinal was entirely routine and above-board. As the trial plays out, the reputations of both that cardinal and Pope Francis’s broader financial reform appear at stake.
With a Vatican trial focusing on charges of misappropriation of funds from a papally-sponsored children’s hospital now on hold until Sept. 19, the question arises of who has the most to lose from its outcome: The two lay defendants themselves, or the cardinal whose reputation appears to be on the line and the fate of the financial reform launched by Pope Francis?
Despite what appeared to be Vatican hopes that a criminal trial against two Italian laymen for allegedly misappropriating funds from a papally-sponsored hospital to renovate the Vatican apartment of a prominent Vatican cardinal could be wrapped up by the time Pope Francis returns on Monday from Colombia, day one ended with the case suspended until Sept. 19 because new evidence has emerged.
As the latest Vatican criminal trial, in this case for financial misappropriation, opens on Thursday, many observers are still wondering how two laymen can be charged with illicitly spending roughly $500,000 from a pediatric hospital’s funds to remodel a cardinal’s Vatican apartment, but that cardinal isn’t facing any charges at all. If this is a test of accountability, in other words, what grade will the Vatican get?