Vatican appoints president of foundation overseeing scandal-ridden Italian hospital

spb bohumil St. Peter's Basilica. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

The Vatican announced Thursday that it had appointed an interim president of the foundation which owns and operates a scandal-ridden dermatological hospital in Rome.

Fr. Giuseppe Pusceddu, a member and the superior of the Italian province of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, was named Nov. 12 as the interim president of the board of directors of the Luigi Maria Monti Foundation.

The Luigi Maria Monti Foundation owns and manages Rome's Istituto Dermopatico dell'Immacolata, or IDI, along with other health structures. Pusceddu was also named president of IDI Farmaceutici srl, a pharmaceutical agency connected to the hospital.

Fr. Pusceddu succeeds Antonio Maria Leozappa, a layman, as president of the foundation. Pusceddu's appointment marks 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 IDI has been plagued by problems for a decade. After years of systematic theft and fraud by hospital administrators, leaving it with 800 million euros in debt, the hospital 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.

The Vatican's Nov. 12 statement said that "pending the appointment of new management, which will have to guide the foundation in continuing to face the difficult challenges of the moment," Pusceddu and the other board members are entrusted with adapting the statutes of the foundation to better reflect the charism of its founding influence, Bl. Luigi Maria Monti.

"The Holy See, as before, will not lack its closeness and support to the Foundation and its works," the statement concluded.

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.

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.