However, given previous statements by Francis, frequently dubbed the “Pope of Mercy,” as well as the fact that it was he who criminalized the leaking of documents in the Vatican, a pardon doesn’t seem likely.
Shortly after the initial accusations were made, Pope Francis in a Sunday Angelus address called the theft and publication of the documents a “mistake” and “a deplorable act that does not help” with ongoing reform efforts.
However, he said the “sad fact” of the situation wouldn’t deter him from moving forward with his collaborators in the continued restructuring of the Roman Curia.
Both Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui are former members of the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA). The commission was established by the Pope July 18, 2013, as part of his plan to reform the Vatican’s finances, and was dissolved after completing its mandate.
They were arrested Nov. 2, 2015, in relation to the theft and dissemination of the documents. Chaouqui was released after spending one night in jail in exchange for her cooperation with investigations, while Msgr. Vallejo has remained in custody.
On Nov. 21, 2015, Msgr. Vallejo, Chaouqui, and Maio were accused of working together to form “an organized criminal association” with the intention of “disclosing information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the (Vatican City) State.”
They were accused of acquiring the confidential documents and passing them on to Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, who published separate books on the information.
Nuzzi and Fittipaldi were themselves accused of “urging and exerting pressure, particularly on Msgr. Vallejo,” to obtain the private documents and then publish books on the content.
After the initial accusations were made, the trial process began Nov. 24, and concluded July 7 after both the prosecution and the defense presented their final arguments.
When the prosecution presented their closing arguments July 4, they originally asked that Msgr. Vallejo serve a three year and one month prison sentence, and that Chaouqui, whom they held to be the “inspirer and the one responsible for the alleged conduct,” serve a three year and nine month sentence.
Due to Maio’s “limited role” in the affair, the prosecution asked that he be given a sentence of one year and nine months in prison.
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They requested that Fittipaldi be acquitted due to “a lack of evidence” of his participation in the crime, while Nuzzi be condemned to a one year suspended sentence.
Their actual sentences, then, show a softer approach. However, while the Vatican’s final ruling might be considered by some as a slap on the wrist, the trial is still proof that they take the issue seriously, and won’t back down from a legal fight should one be necessary again in the future.
At a July 7 news briefing on the trial’s conclusion, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ said the process was necessary in order to demonstrate the will to combat “the incorrect manifestations and consequences of the tensions and polemics inside the Vatican.”
For too long these tensions have shed “an ambiguous and negative” on internal discussions and interactions, and have had negative consequences on public opinion via the “indiscretions or filtrations of documents to the media,” he said.
The spokesman insisted that the public has the right “to objective and serene information,” calling the trend of leaking documents “a disease to be fought with determination.”