Spanish priest arrested in new Vatican leaks case

Monsignor Vallejo, who remains in custody, is the prefect secretary for economic affairs

Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, seen in an archive photo.
Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, seen in an archive photo.

A Spanish priest and an Italian communications expert have been arrested by the Vatican’s own police force for allegedly leaking confidential Holy See documents related to the Catholic Church’s finances, officials said Monday.

Monsignor Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Chaouqui were detained over the weekend, the Vatican said in a statement.

According to Church officials, the documents are set to be published in several books that will go on sale in the coming days.

Regarding the two books [that will be published], they are the result of a grave betrayal of the pope’s trust”  Vatican statement

This is the second leak of secret documents at the Vatican in recent years, following the theft of private letters and correspondence from the desk of Pope Benedict XVI by his butler.

“Regarding the two books in the next days, we clearly state that this time, as in the past, they are the result of ‘a grave betrayal of the pope’s trust’,” said the statement.

Vallejo, who is prefect secretary for economic affairs at the Vatican, and Chaouqui, who was described as a communications and social networking expert, were both members of a special investigative commission looking into financial affairs at the Holy See.

Vallejo had nominated Chaouqui to serve on the now-disbanded COSEA (Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See).

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Her candidacy evoked controversy at the time after it was revealed that Chaouqui had posted messages on Twitter alleging that Joseph Ratzinger was suffering from leukemia, and calling former Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone a “corrupt” official.

The two gave statements to authorities over the weekend as official suspects in the case. Chaouqui was released on Monday, but Vallejo still remained in custody.

One of the books that will go on sale was written by Gianluigi Nuzzi, the author of His Holiness: the Secret Letters of Benedict XVI, which was based on material stolen from Ratzinger.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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