How to End the "Vatileaks II" Imbroglio
By Phil Lawler
March 17, 2016
John Allen has a useful suggestion on how the Vatican can close out the "Vatileaks II" scandal and avoid another public-relations debacle.
Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda has already admitted leaking the confidential documents, and his explanation—that a woman had lured him into a compromising situation and then threatened him—doesn't constitute an excuse. He betrayed his office, and he's subject to Vatican law; he should be punished.
But the other three prominent defendants are Italian citizens; it is not clear that the Vatican could enforce a criminal sentence, even if one or more are convicted. Nor is it clear that the Vatican should want a conviction.
Two of those "name" defendants, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, are journalists. A strong case can be made that they were doing their job by publishing the material that was given to them. An even stronger case can be made that it's losing proposition for any goverment to prosecute journalists who expose corruption. These two journalists, Allen notes, are setting themselves as martyrs for the cause of press freedom.
The third "name" defendant, Francesca Chaouqui, is a special case. She denies the lurid accusations made against her by Msgr. Vallejo Balda, but she seems to revel in the public attention that she now claims. She has vowed that if convicted she would refuse a pardon, and if imprisoned, she would write a book while in jail. Oh yes, and she's pregnant. Does anyone at the Vatican really want to put a pregnant woman behind bars, and make her a media sensation in the process?
Thus Allen's suggestion: Stop the trial now, punish the one man who can and should be punished. Drop the other charges. As he puts it, "If Chaouqui, Nuzzi, and Fittipaldi are cut loose, then the argument for presenting themselves as martyrs would vanish."