It the Vatican a Den of Spies?

The Vatican financial trial in its final recess, before defense attorneys make their closing arguments after the August break and the judges adjourn to consider their verdict.

While the judges and lawyers are (and should be) concerned with the evidence directly related to the sprawling indictment against the 10 accused, the trial has also thrown up testimony which paints the Vatican as a kind of hotbed of spying.

With senior officials, Vatican City police, and a litany of shadowy private contractors all apparently engaged in surveillance and counter surveillance of each other, apparently without remorse, what does that tell us about the state of the rule of law in the Vatican?

The Holy See, like any sovereign government, has long maintained a kind of intelligence-gathering operation in and for the Vatican City state.

Indeed, with at least theoretically direct access to clerics and religious spread across the globe, the Church is often said to have one of the best human intelligence networks in the world.

Within the territory of Vatican City, the city state’s gendarmes also run a highly sophisticated security operation, aimed not only at day-to-day safety of pilgrims and tourists streaming through St. Peter’s basilica and the Vatican museums, but also the state security of governing departments under the very real threat of espionage, especially during events like a papal conclave.

But as the current trial has made clear, there is also a parallel intelligence world of the Vatican, with senior officials bringing in outside contractors or diverting Holy See resources for their own use — often against others working in the Holy See.

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