Spy vs. Spy at the Vatican

One Vatican office spying on another? It isn’t edifying. But read between the lines of the latest report emerging from the Vatican finance trial, and you can begin to see the outline of a larger scandal.

The Pillar site, which continues to set the pace for coverage of the financial shenanigans, broke the story for American readers. A former official of the Secretariat of State has testified that, at the bidding of his superiors, he brought in intelligence officers from the Italian government to check for electronic surveillance at the Vatican.

Pillar makes the point that the Holy See has its own experts on electronic surveillance, at the Vatican gendarmerie. So why would the Secretariat of State go outside the Vatican walls, to look for help in detecting illegal surveillance?

But maybe I shouldn’t assume that the Secretariat of State was worried about illegal surveillance. If it was being done by agents of the Vatican gendarmerie, investigating illegal financial activity, then it wasn’t illegal. You may recall that in October 2019, the offices of the Secretariat of State were raided— by officers of the Vatican gendarmerie. And now you can begin to connect the dots.

Vincenzo Maurillo, the former employee responsible for this latest bombshell, says that he was asked to contact the Italian intelligence agents in May or June 2019: just a few months before the raid. We now know that Vatican prosecutors were investigating reports about unauthorized financial dealings in the Secretariat of State. So officials there may have had very good reason to worry about electronic bugging— and good reasons not to talk to the Vatican gendarmerie about their concerns.

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