Vatican hit by fresh scandals
Indonesian Bishop Hubertus Leteng, above, has resigned following allegations by dozens of priests in the Diocese of Ruteng of having a mistress and misusing tens of thousands of dollars of church funds.
According to this report, Pope Francis accepted his resignation this week, though the bishop did not provide a reason for his departure.
The Vatican has been investigating claims that he borrowed $94,000 (almost £71,000) from the Indonesian bishops’ conference, along with reports that he took another $30,000 (£22,500) from his diocese without accounting for either sum of money.
At least 69 of 167 diocesan priests quit their posts in June in the midst of the scandal, though clergy who remained loyal to Leteng urged members to continue supporting him.
Father Robert Pelita, episcopal vicar of Labuan Bajo, was one of the many to accuse the bishop of financial irregularities. He claimed that Leteng admitted at a meeting that he took the diocese’s money.
The priests who resigned accused the bishop of lavishing part of the money on a woman, with whom they suspect he is having an affair. The allegations stem back from 2014, when one departing priest shared such observations.
Leteng has in the past denied the accusations and told priests that he was using the borrowed money to finance the education of youth from a poor family in the United States.
He has not provided further details, however, and reportedly told priests who asked for more information that it was:
None of their business.
The Vatican has been involved in several investigations of controversial priests this past year, including one case from January concerning Father Andrea Contin of the northern city of Padua in Veneto, Italy.
Contin is reportedly facing defrocking after he was accused of organising orgies on the San Lazzaro church premises, some of which he recorded in pornographic home videos. The revelations were made when police seized such material from his possession after three female parishioners came forward with complaints.
He was also accused of pimping out 15 women at naturist and swingers’ resorts in France.
Meanwhile, it’s reported here that a Vatican court has convicted the former President of the Pope’s children’s hospital, Giuseppe Profiti, above, of diverting some $500,000 (£376,000) in donations to renovate a cardinal’s penthouse. He was given a one-year suspended sentence.
The original charges against Profiti had been embezzlement. But the court convicted him of a lesser offense of abuse of office after the defence argued the money was intended as an investment to benefit the hospital.
The three-judge tribunal absolved Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital’s former treasurer, Massimo Spina. Notably, neither the cardinal who benefited from the renovation nor the contractor who was apparently paid twice for doing the work was charged.
More than anything, the trial exposed how Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s former Secretary of State, bent Vatican rules to get his luxurious retirement apartment ready after Pope Francis was elected in 2013 and named a new Secretary of State.
It also revealed the “opacity, silence and poor management” in the handling of Vatican assets, prosecutor Roberto Zanotti said in his closing arguments. A lack of financial transparency and accountability has bedeviled the Holy See for centuries and been a top concern for Francis’ reform-minded papacy.
And it shined further light on the finances of the Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) hospital, which was the subject of an Associated Press investigation earlier this year. The AP uncovered a secret 2014 Vatican-authorised probe that found that the hospital’s mission under the Profiti administration had become “more aimed at profit” than patient care.
After retiring in 2013, Bertone was assigned a 400 square meter (4,305 sq. feet), top-floor bachelor pad in the Vatican-owned Palazzo San Carlo. The building sits on the edge of the Vatican gardens, offers fabulous views of St. Peter’s Basilica and overlooks the Vatican hotel where Francis lives.
Hat tip: Stephen Mynett (Profiti report)