29 January 2012
The Vatican appears to be embarrassed by a leak to the media of arrangements between senior Vatican officials and contractors to provide overpriced services to the department that manages the Vatican buildings, streets, gardens and museums.
An archbishop who spent two years as the department’s deputy chief, was concerned about the premium being paid to contractors. He wrote alerting the Pope and the Vatican Secretary General to the circumstances. Aware that by calling for transparency and competition he was treading on toes, he also referred to moves to oust him from office.
He reported finding a “disastrous situation”, “chaotic management” and corruption.
While he turned around a budget deficit equivalent to US$ $9.8 million in 2009 to a surplus of US$28 million in 2010, the campaign against him was successfully coordinated by factions within the church hierarch. Although appointed until 2014, he was promoted as nuncio in the United States in October 2011 – a plum role but which conveniently removed him from oversight of contracting processes.
On Wednesday the correspondence to the Pope was carried in the Italian media. The Vatican communications office has criticised this disclosure but has not denied the authenticity of the letters. It is said to be “shaken” by the resulting scandal. Publishing the letters referring to corruption, nepotism, cronyism and bankers “who looked after their own interests” rather than those of the Church was, oddly, castigated as poor journalism and as a cause of “sadness” to the Vatican.
To some, the archbishop was a “ball breaker” upsetting long standing arrangements. Despite reversing the budget deficit, in 2011 unattributed articles referring to his inefficiency were published by Il Giornale, a national paper. Rather than applaud the archbishop’s success the Vatican communications office this week sought “to defend the honour of morally upright people who loyally serve the church”.
Which goes to show that even whistleblowers with a godly connection can be victimised when work colleagues close ranks.