Children’s hospital cash funded cardinal’s plush apartment
Funds designated for sick children were allegedly diverted to pay for costly renovations to the apartment of the Vatican’s former Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 81, above.
According to estimates published in the Italian press, each of the bedrooms has its own private bathroom, and the kitchen facilities are befitting a banquet hall. Bertone spent $22,000 on eight independent sharable audio programmes and audio controls with LCD display for each environment.
That, writes Barbie Latza Nadeau of the Daily Beast:
Essentially boils down to a sound system where each room in the lavish apartment, including the rooftop chapel, can be programmed with its own mood music. This, for a prelate and three nuns who have no official role whatsoever in Francis’s church.
The massive-for-Rome apartment is being floored with 2,400 square feet of expensive herringbone oak parquet which cost the cardinal and the hospital $28,000. A smaller 750-square-foot area is being covered with luxury white Carrara marble at a price tag of $11,000. The double-glaze energy efficient windows cost $80,000 and the front security door is priced at $6,000.
The high-efficiency silent heat pumps cost $32,000 and climate control dehumidifying system comes in at $19,000.
Bertone – who served in the Vatican’s No 2 position as Secretary of State from 2006 until Pope Francis retired him in 2013 – decided to combine two vacant Vatican-owned rooftop apartments for himself and his three service nuns at an estimated cost of around half a million euro, which was discounted by 50 percent, according to official estimates published by the Italian newspaper Il Tempo.
But despite the considerable savings, the renovations were apparently paid for twice, meaning the discount was likely down to creative – or corrupt – accounting, which is being investigated by a Vatican Tribunal that opened a criminal dossier into the matter last week.
Italian journalist and author Emiliano Fittipaldi claimed funds designated for sick children were diverted for the apartment’s restoration through a London-based holding company controlled by Gianantonio Bandera, a friend of Bertone’s.
The investigation into the affair involves two executives from Rome’s Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital – former chairman Giuseppe Profiti and former treasurer Massimo Spina – on allegations that they misappropriated hospital funds to pay for the restoration of the apartment while Bertone was Secretary of State.
Greg Burke, deputy director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the probe on March 31. He said Bertone was not under investigation.
Fittipaldi, author of Avarice, and another journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, are currently facing charges in the so-called Vatileaks trial for receiving and publishing confidential Vatican documents on the Holy See’s financial excesses in separate books last year. The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
After their explosive books were released, Bertone insisted he paid for his apartment renovations with his own money, but he donated $170,000 to the children’s hospital last December.
At the time, Bertone said that the funds he paid to the hospital were a voluntary donation, not a reimbursement, and that he felt he had been slandered by some kind of “holy alliance” against him. Bertone said:
It is a donation that reflects my sentimental attachment to the hospital and its little patients.
Bertone says he can prove he paid around $340,000 for the work out of his own pocket, but the foundation that raises money for the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu children’s hospital apparently also paid $455,000.
Two years ago, Italian media reports claimed Bertone had angered Pope Francis with a move to combine and renovate two apartments and create a 6,500-square-foot residence in the San Carlo palace next to the St Martha Residence where Francis lives. Bertone’s term of office was highly divisive in the Vatican administration, and he was replaced by the current Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, in 2013.
Before his removal, the cardinal lashed out, saying he was the victim of “moles and vipers” in the Vatican.