After initial investigations into the theft and dissemination of confidential documents of the Holy See, resulting in the arrests of Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda and Francesca Immaculate Chaouqui, a Vatican magistrate has indicted them and three others.
Among those indicted are also journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who both recently published tell-all books on Vatican scandals, using material from the stolen documents. Nuzzi wrote a book called Merchants in the Temple, while Fittipaldi’s book is simply called Greed.
The investigation has been dubbed “Vatileaks 2,” seen by many as a sequel to the original Vatileaks, when a Vatican butler stole confidential documents in 2012 from then-Pope Benedict XVI and leaked them to an Italian journalist.
The butler, named Paolo Gabriele, who used to ride in the popemobile and eat meals regularly with the Pope, was tried in October 2012, and a Vatican tribunal found him guilty. His 18-month prison sentence was commuted after receiving a pardon from the Pope, and Gabriele now works in a hospital in Rome.
At the time, Pope Benedict expressed his incredulity regarding the betrayal. “To me it is simply incomprehensible,” Benedict said. “I cannot fathom this psychology.”
The Court of the State of Vatican City has taken steps to notify the defendants and their lawyers of the request for indictment. The first hearing of the trial has been scheduled for next Tuesday.
“I am thrilled,” said Fittipaldi, regarding news of the indictment. “I just did my job as a journalist,” and this is “an indictment of freedom of information.”
“In the history of the Vatican this is the first time that two foreign journalists are put under investigation for article 116. Now I need to consult with my lawyers regarding what to do, but it is clear that freedom of the press is not safeguarded.”
A source within the Holy See told Breitbart News that the indictments may end up “counterproductive,” especially since the books written by the offending journalists seem to be selling poorly, both in the U.S. and Italy prior to the news. “Now,” he said, “they come off as martyrs when they were just two-bit opportunists.”
Nuzzi wrote on his Facebook page, “The Vatican has indicted me for writing my book Merchants in the Temple. They can do whatever they want, but as long as the world exists there will be journalists who will write uncomfortable news stories. I am one of them and I won’t stop doing my duty.”
“I am proud to have written an investigation and proud of Merchants in the Temple,” he wrote. “I am proud to receive your love and support. I won’t give in. The right to inform and be informed is stronger than a muzzle.”
For now, the five indictments are “an investigation, not a sentence,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. “We will assess whether the charges are proportionate.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.