VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Vatican prosecutors dismissed a legal case filed by former Vatican inspector Libero Milone and his deputy, Ferruccio Panicco, on Wednesday (Nov. 16) and opened investigations criminal charges against two men who managed the remaining funds of the Vatican offices.
“This is unacceptable!” a furious Milone said at a press conference in Rome on Thursday. Milone, who was hired by Pope Francis in 2015 to help him work on fiscal reform at the Vatican, said that “Pope Francis’ silence on this matter is deafening.”
“What are we, in 18th century?” Milone once asked, questioning the law in a small Catholic town. He later called the Vatican’s financial and legal system “Orwellian.”
The former Vatican investigators submitted their lawsuit to the Vatican Secretary of State earlier this month, asking the Catholic Church to pay them more than 9 million euros for the damage of their name after their sudden eviction in 2017.
Panicco is also criticizing the Vatican for deleting documents about his medical history after they were removed during the investigation. Without them, he says, his chances of surviving prostate cancer would have worsened.
Milone and Panicco were questioned for hours on Monday by Vatican prosecutors, who accused them of issuing false invoices while serving as inspectors. Prosecutors have reopened criminal proceedings against them, and Vatican judges have decided to take the case to trial.
Speaking to a small group of Vatican reporters last week, Milone threatened to reveal the financial irregularities and corruption he uncovered during his time as an investigator if the Vatican did not take action. to his requests to restore his name.
Earlier this year, Milone and Panicco said, Vatican officials provided a copy of the non-disclosure agreement signed by the two men. Milone claims his signature was copied on the document, which he said was dated two months before he was appointed auditor of the Catholic Church’s finances.
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Milone and Panicco say that in 2017, they were forced to resign by the former Vatican police chief, Domenico Giani, who said a seven-month investigation had uncovered evidence that they had worked at espionage and misuse of funds. It is unclear who was allegedly spied on or what.
Milone believes he was created as part of a plan by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, and until 2018 held the second highest job in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State but since then has accused of theft and other crimes. Becciu and nine others are on trial on charges related to controversial investments of church funds.
“I believe he (Becciu) gave false information to the Holy Father, but the Holy Father found out,” Milone said.
Becciu, who was stripped of his powers as a cardinal and retains the title, has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, including Milone.
At the press conference, Milone referred to Becciu as a monsignor, an honorary title given to priests, because, Milone said, “he was not like a cardinal in my view, even though he was a priest for that said.” Milone and his deputy say that Becciu and other employees at the Secretariat of State did everything in their power to eliminate the two players of the necessary information about the funds of the department.
“Do you know why they sent me?” Milone said. “For my good work.”
Milone said he was weighing his next steps and acknowledged the challenges of taking the Vatican to court in other jurisdictions or at the international level. “Professors have a way of thinking that they are always right, but they are human and they can be wrong,” he said. “It’s time they realized that.”
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