Vatican denounces leaks of documents on finance reforms

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican spokesman on Friday condemned as "unworthy and petty" the leaks of documents detailing power struggles inside the Holy See and the expenditures of Pope Francis' new finance czar.

In a cover story Friday, Italy's L'Espresso weekly detailed opposition to Cardinal George Pell's financial reform and revealed that his Secretariat for the Economy had racked up a half million euros (dollars) in expenditures in the last six months. Some of the expenses seemed legitimate, but one was a 2,508-euro ($2,800) bill from Rome's swanky Gamarelli tailor.

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, condemned the leaks as illegal and called the attacks on Pell "unworthy and petty." He said Pell's office was moving ahead efficiently with reforms.

Pope Francis tasked Pell last year to put the Vatican's finances in order after years of mismanagement, waste and scandal. Francis gave him broad powers and the Australian has received widespread support from cardinals outside Rome.

But questions have swirled about the scope of his power and resistance has grown from within the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy, especially after Pell boasted that he had "discovered" hundreds of millions of euros "tucked away" in accounts off the Vatican balance sheet.

In fact, the money was well-known and much of it was purposefully set aside as reserves for funding shortfalls.

The leaks to L'Espresso were clearly aimed at discrediting Pell and harked back to the "Vati-leaks" affair that tarnished the final year of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. In that scandal, Benedict's butler leaked reams of papal documents to an Italian journalist, aiming to discredit the Vatican's No. 2 official.

The documents also laid bare the dysfunctions and political intrigue that afflict the Vatican bureaucracy — problems that were central to Francis' election as pope with a mandate for reform.


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