The official Vatican spokesman says an Italian television broadcast claiming to disclose financial corruption at the Vatican exaggerated the situation.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., questioned the “debatable” journalistic methods employed in the broadcast’s “diffusion of private documents.”
The information in the program stretched “well beyond reality,” he said in a Jan. 26 statement, adding that “the general situation of the government is not as negative as they want to make people believe.”
Accusations of financial mismanagement in the Vatican were broadcast Jan. 25 on a prominent Italian television network in a show entitled “Gli intoccabili.”
The program claimed that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò – now the Pope’s official representative to the U.S. – wrote a private letter to Pope Benedict XVI on March 27, 2011, asking not to be transferred to the U.S. while new measures aimed at cleaning up the Vatican’s financial situation were being implemented.
Archbishop Viganò was serving as the second in command for the Governatorate of Vatican City, before he was appointed as the new nuncio to the United States in October 2011.
In his work at the Holy See, he introduced financial controls and accountability procedures that transformed a multi-million dollar deficit into a significant surplus in just one year.
In a Jan. 26 statement, Fr. Lombardi responded to the broadcast, lamenting that it has become “all too familiar” to find biased reporting about the Catholic Church.
He stressed that governing the Vatican City-State is very complex, and said that the situation was presented in “a partial and banal way” so as to exalt “the negative aspects.”
Fr. Lombardi noted the many positive effects of Archbishop Viganò’s actions as Secretary General of the Government. He said that an accurate analysis of the financial changes within the Holy See must take into account changing markets and economic situations, as well as a notable increase in visitors to the Vatican Museums.
He also commented on the “significant expenses” required to meet the Vatican’s important non-economic goal of supporting the universal Church.
The Vatican spokesman also underscored that Archbishop Viganò’s appointment as the apostolic nuncio to the United States showed Pope Benedict’s great trust in him.
Holy See officials, Fr. Lombardi said, continue to be guided by the standards of “healthy administration and of transparency” to which Archbishop Viganò committed himself.
Fr. Lombardi also said that the Vatican government is willing to “pursue all appropriate options,” including possible legal action to defend the reputation of the Vatican officials mentioned in the broadcast.