Pope Francis’ chief bodyguard has resigned over the leak of a Vatican police flyer identifying five employees who were suspended as part of a financial investigation.
The Vatican said its police chief, 57-year-old Domenico Giani, bore no responsibility for the leaked flyer but resigned to avoid disrupting the investigation and “out of love for the church and faithfulness” to the pope.
The person who leaked the document to the Italian newsweekly L’Espresso remains unknown.
Giani, a 20-year veteran of the Vatican’s security services, has stood by Francis’ side and jogged alongside his popemobile during hundreds of public appearances and foreign trips. He also was the chief bodyguard for Pope Benedict XVI, and the Vatican took pains to stress his “unquestionable faithfulness and loyalty” to the Holy See.
Giani had signed the Oct. 2 police flyer after his agents raided two Holy See offices — the secretariat of state and the Vatican’s financial intelligence unit — as part of an investigation by Vatican criminal prosecutors into alleged financial irregularities surrounding a money-losing London real estate deal, according to NBC report.
The deal — which reportedly resulted in a loss to the Holy See of tens of millions — has itself raised questions about the Vatican’s murky finances and poor investment decisions during Benedict’s papacy. Recently, Francis ordered cost cuts to relieve a structural deficit estimated at some 70 million euros.
But the raids and related suspensions, apparently launched due to more recent efforts to recover some of the lost money, were highly unusual for the Vatican and sparked fresh speculation about its Machiavellian turf battles, power struggles and score-settling.
That the alleged leaker remains unknown has added to the mystery surrounding the case, which has implicated high-ranking Vatican cardinals.
In this instance, officials have spoken openly of an institutional crisis, particularly over the raid on the financial intelligence unit known as the Financial Information Authority, NBC reported.
The office shares financial information with counterparts in dozens of countries as part of global efforts to crack down on money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing.
National financial intelligence units might be unwilling to share sensitive information with the Holy See if raids were executed without sufficient cause.
To date, the Vatican hasn’t said what, if any, evidence it has of the agency’s wrongdoing.