VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Wednesday it had placed two Italian journalists under investigation in its probe over leaked documents that revealed waste, greed and mismanagement at the highest levels of the Catholic Church hierarchy.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote two bombshell books detailing the uphill battle Pope Francis is facing in reforming the Vatican. Their books, released last week, were based on leaked documents from a reform commission Francis named to get a handle on the Vatican's finances and propose reforms.
Already, two members of the commission who had access to the documents have been arrested.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday that Nuzzi and Fittipaldi had been placed under investigation by Vatican magistrates for their alleged role in dealing with the leaked documents. He said other officials were being looked at for having possibly cooperated in the scandal.
Reached in Berlin, Nuzzi said he knew nothing of the investigation. Fittipaldi was quoted by his L'Espresso magazine as saying the investigation is the price he has to pay for doing his job.
In the Italian and Vatican legal systems, people are frequently placed under investigation without charges ever being filed as part of the information-gathering process by investigative magistrates. It wasn't immediately clear that the Vatican would have jurisdiction over the two journalists if they saw or were given the documents outside Vatican territory.
The books were based on documents that revealed millions of euros in lost rental income from the Vatican's vast real estate holdings, millions in missing inventory from the Vatican's tax-free department store, supermarket and pharmacy, as well as the greed of monsignors and cardinals who lusted after huge apartments and the exorbitant costs for getting a saint made.
The books have spawned a week of headlines in Italian newspapers, prompting the Vatican on Wednesday to come out in force to dispute the reports and warn that it would take legal steps to protect its reputation.
Pope Francis' top deputy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Wednesday the reports have bordered on "hysterical" and were simply "attacks on the church."
He acknowledged, however, that Francis' reform agenda has run into "resistance."