Vatican names former head of financial police to lead foundation managing scandal-ridden hospital

General Saverio Capolupo with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in 2016. General Saverio Capolupo shakes hands with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace in 2016. | Credit: Quirinal Palace

The Vatican announced Saturday it had appointed the former commander general of Italy’s financial police force as president of the foundation overseeing a scandal-ridden dermatological hospital in Rome.

Saverio Capolupo, 70, served from 2012 to 2016 as the commander general of the Guardia di Finanza, a militarized police force responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling.

Capolupo is now a member of the Council of State, which ensures the legality of Italy’s public administration.

The Vatican named him president of the board of directors of the Luigi Maria Monti Foundation, which owns and manages Rome's Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata, or IDI, along with other health structures.

Capolupo succeeds Fr. Giuseppe Pusceddu, superior of the Italian province of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, who was appointed interim president of the foundation last year.

Pusceddu’s appointment in November 2020 marked the first time the foundation’s leadership has been returned to a member of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception since Benedict XVI appointed a Vatican commissioner to look into the hospital’s finances in 2013.

The Vatican’s March 20 statement about Capolupo’s appointment said “the Holy See continues to show its closeness and support to the Foundation and its works, which perpetuate the legacy of Fr. Monti through the prompt care of the suffering and fraternal attention to their needs.”

The IDI has been plagued by problems for a decade. After years of systematic theft and fraud by hospital administrators, leaving the hospital with 800 million euros in debt, it was declared bankrupt in 2012.

In 2015, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State stepped in, arranging to purchase the hospital out of state-administered bankruptcy through a for-profit partnership with the religious order that owned and managed the hospital -- an arrangement which also ended in financial scandal.

After the IDI was driven into bankruptcy by a series of embezzlement scandals, it was purchased in 2015 by a for-profit partnership created by the Secretariat of State and the religious order that had owned the hospital, the Sons of the Immaculate Conception.

To carry out the purchase, the partnership received -- through a complex series of transactions -- 50 million euros, in a loan from the Vatican central bank, APSA, although APSA had agreed with European banking regulators not to make commercial loans.

In an attempt to take the loan off APSA’s books, officials in the Secretariat of State then asked the Papal Foundation, a U.S.-based charitable foundation, for a $25 million grant. The grant was approved, but subsequent questions from board members led to controversy and opposition. The Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has said that he organized the loan and the grant.

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