- May 8, 2021
Before getting terribly excited about Pope Francis’s latest legal move to enforce accountability at the highest levels, there are at least three reasons to take a “wait and see” attitude.
Three witnesses testified that Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was relieved of his position as Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica last Saturday by Pope Francis, or his aides, had been aware of sexual abuse allegations at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds and took no action.
On Tuesday, Pope Francis moved to address the perception that the system is rigged against defendants with a series of reforms, such as modifying the requirements for “in absentia” trials as well introducing the possibility of reduced sentences for good behavior and rehabilitation programs.
Friday’s appointment of Catia Summaria as Promoter of Justice for the Vatican’s Court of Appeals is not mere tokenism, as the Vatican’s criminal justice system is becoming progressively more significant in the Pope Francis era.
Two former officials of the papally-sponsored pediatric hospital Bambino Gesù have been charged by Vatican prosecutors with misappropriation of funds over an outlay of almost $500,000 to remodel a Vatican apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI, with the contract going to a company owned by a Bertone friend. Bertone himself does not face any charges.
The lawyer for Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, one of five defendants accused of stealing secret Vatican documents on finances insists that Nuzzi had a duty to publish the material. and that the Vatican lacks jurisdiction since the alleged crimes occurred in Italy.