VATICAN CITY - The Italian television journalist who set off
the "VatiLeaks" controversy by releasing private letters to
Pope Benedict XVI and between Vatican officials has published
a large collection of leaked documents in a new book called
In a statement May 19, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi,
Vatican spokesman, called the publication of the letters for
commercial gain a "criminal act" and said the Vatican would
take legal action.
"The latest publication of documents of the Holy See and
private documents of the Holy Father can no longer be
considered a questionable - and objectively defamatory -
journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the character of
a criminal act," Father Lombardi said.
The spokesman said the publication of the letters violates
the right to privacy and the "freedom of correspondence" of
Pope Benedict, the letter writers and some of the pope's
In the letters, which include accusations of corruption and
financial mismanagement in the Vatican, and focus heavily on
internal Italian church matters or Vatican-Italian relations,
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, is
particularly presented in an unfavorable light.
In late April, Pope Benedict appointed three retired
cardinals to a commission to investigate the leaking of the
Father Lombardi said, "The Holy See will continue to explore
the different implications of these acts of violation of the
privacy and dignity of the Holy Father - as a person and as
the supreme authority of the church and Vatican City State -
and will take appropriate steps so that the authors of the
theft, those who received stolen property and those who
disclosed confidential information, using illegally obtained
private documents for commercial use, answer for their acts
before the law."
Nuzzi's book was published May 17 and immediately went to the
No. 1 spot on the Italian best-selling books lists.
Facsimiles of dozens of letters and notes are printed in the
back of the book. But more than 100 others are quoted - in
part or entirely - within the book's chapters focusing on
"corruption" in the Vatican, making donations in exchange for
a personal meeting with the pope, Vatican-Italian relations,
the thirst for power among curia officials, the influence of
new religious orders and movements and the way church
officials handle a variety of scandals around the globe.
The reproductions include a note from an Italian television
host to the pope's personal secretary and a copy of a check
for 10,000 euro (about $12,650) with a handwritten postscript
saying, "When can we have a meeting to greet the Holy
The book includes what Nuzzi says is the Vatican's decryption
of a message from the Vatican nunciature in Washington
passing on a request from Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George
that the Secretariat of State intervene to prevent the
Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio from giving an award to
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Sant'Egidio, a lay movement involved
in a variety of social issues, apparently planned to honor
Quinn for abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.
The nunciature said that while Quinn is Catholic, the
cardinal felt the honor was "inopportune" because of the
governor's support for gay marriage and legalized abortion
and because Illinois refused to renew foster care and
adoption contracts with Catholic Charities in four dioceses.