The investigation has not yet led to an indictment, but questions have arisen regarding Archbishop Peña Parra: If he was aware of and endorsed the controversial financial operation, why wasn't he too included in the investigation?
Most importantly, the British judge's ruling could mark a serious setback for the Vatican judicial system's credibility on the eve of the Moneyval report on the Holy See.
Moneyval is the Council of Europe's committee that evaluates if member states are adhering to international standards. Moneyval will issue its fourth progress report on the Vatican at the end of April. This report will discuss the Vatican judicial system's effectiveness in countering money laundering and the prevention of financing terrorism, so the Vatican prosecutor will be under strict scrutiny.
Many argue that the Vatican prosecutor's reliability is in question since he conducted his investigation disregarding the rights of the people involved.
This began with Torzi's arrest at the Vatican. He went with his lawyers for an interrogation but found himself thrown in a cell for 10 days.
Then there was Raffaele Mincione, an Italian citizen taken from a hotel and placed in custody in Italy. He has filed two lawsuits in London against the Holy See.
There are also possible lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg; since some of the defendants have been arrested or subjected to search and seizures without even knowing the charges against them.
Six people were first suspended and then demoted from (or not renewed in) their positions because of the London investigation. They had no notice of the charges against them until the prosecutors had interrogated them. Still, they do not know if they will face trial.
The Holy See is part of an international system and signs declarations, memoranda of understanding, and international conventions. Yet the Vatican state is an absolute monarchy, with a judicial system working under the decisions of an absolute monarch.
What if the activism of the Vatican tribunal backfires against the Holy See? What if any state hostile to religion uses these procedural mistakes and human rights failings to attack the Holy See and the Catholic Church in a broader sense?
These are the reasons why the Baumgartner ruling sends an alarm signal that the pope cannot ignore.
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.