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Vatican Arrests 2 Advisers In Connection With Documents Leak

The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government. i

The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government. Giuseppe Ciccia/Barcroft Media /Landov hide caption

toggle caption Giuseppe Ciccia/Barcroft Media /Landov
The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government.

The balconies of St. Peter's at the Vatican in Rome. The two people arrested Monday were members of a committee convened by Pope Francis in 2013 to keep him abreast of financial reforms in the Vatican government.

Giuseppe Ciccia/Barcroft Media /Landov

On Monday, the Vatican arrested a monsignor and a public relations employee on charges of leaking confidential information to the media. The arrests preempt the Thursday release of two books, purported to reveal new scandals in the Holy See.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome that the PR employee, a woman, has been released after agreeing to cooperate with investigators, but the priest was in a Vatican jail cell:

"Spanish priest Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda is the No. 2 at the Vatican's prefecture for economic affairs, and Francesca Chaouqui is a public relations expert. Both were members of a commission that Pope Francis set up in 2013 to advise him of financial reform in the Curia, or the Vatican bureaucracy. The commission was disbanded after it handed its report to the pope.

"The twin arrests come just days before books by two Italian journalists are to be released. Both claim to contain revelations of corruption inside the Holy See. A Vatican statement said the books are the result of the 'serious betrayal of the trust bestowed by the pope' on the part of two commission members."

The statement goes on to condemn the books as creating confusion instead of bringing clarity.

One of the books was written by Gianluigi Nuzzi, the journalist who wrote the 2012 book on the "Vatileaks" scandal that some say contributed to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. That controversy centered on corruption in the Holy See.

As NPR reported at the time:

"Known as Vatileaks, the crisis has shed light on a Vatican gripped by intrigue and power struggles like a Renaissance court.

"Vatileaks erupted into a full-blown scandal with the publication two weeks ago of a book of Vatican documents alleging corruption and conspiracies among cardinals.

"Within days, the Vatican bank president was abruptly dismissed and the pope's own butler was arrested on charges of stealing the pope's correspondence.

"The Vatican denounced the leaking of papal letters as a brutal attack and launched a three-pronged investigation to find the moles."

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