The Vatican says it considers the continued leaking of confidential documents, including private correspondence belonging to Pope Benedict XVI, a “criminal act” that it will seek to bring to justice.
“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,” said Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, in a statement issued to the media May 19.
“The Holy Father, but also several of his collaborators and the senders of messages directed to him, have seen their rights to personal privacy and freedom of correspondence violated,” he stated.
The Vatican statement follows the publication of a new book containing a series of leaked letter addressed personally to Pope Benedict XVI. “Sua Santita” (His Holiness) is the work of the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
Last month, Pope Benedict established a special commission of three cardinals, chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, to investigate the source of the internal leaks.
“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,” Fr. Lombardi said.
He promised that the Vatican will “take appropriate steps so that the authors of the theft, those who received stolen property and those who disclosed confidential information ... answer for their acts before the law.” If necessary, the Vatican said it will request "international collaboration."
The Vatican scored a victory in the courts last week when the Italian clothing firm Benetton backed down and apologized for using an image of Pope Benedict XVI in a 2011 advertising campaign. The company had doctored a photograph to depict the Pope kissing a Muslim imam.
Journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi is no stranger to run-ins with the Vatican.
Earlier this year he also revealed confidential correspondence sent to Pope Benedict by the current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. In those letters, Archbishop Vigano pleaded to remain in his previous post as Secretary of the Vatican City’s government. He also claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign by those aggrieved at his reforms of the Vatican’s purchasing procedures.
Other recent Vatican leaks have centered on the Holy See’s financial body, the Institute of Works of Religion, which is currently attempting to reform its procedures to comply with international regulatory norms.