The Pope’s Absolute Power, And The Problems It Can Cause, On Display In Two Vatican Trials

Two Vatican trials are coming to a head this week and posing uncomfortable questions for the Holy See, given they both underscore Pope Francis’ power as an absolute monarch and the legal, financial and reputational problems that can arise when he wields it.

On Wednesday, the Vatican’s former in-house auditor was in court for a hearing in his 9.3 million euro wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the Holy See. Libero Milone says Vatican police forced his resignation in 2017 under the threat of arrest, after he was told Francis had “lost faith” in him over his zealous attempts to audit Vatican monsignors.

The Vatican secretariat of state has objected to being named as a defendant in the suit, arguing it had nothing to do with Milone’s hiring or resignation and that the city state’s tribunal had no place getting involved.

The rationale: The pope hired Milone and then wanted him out, and the court has no right to judge his decisions.

On Thursday, the Vatican’s long-running financial fraud, extortion and corruption trial resumes, with defense attorneys offering final arguments ahead of a verdict expected before the end of the year.

On their first day of closing arguments earlier this month, lawyers for the former managers of the Vatican financial watchdog agency challenged key elements of the prosecutors’ case by underlining that Francis had approved the key transaction at the heart of the trial, and that Vatican officials merely executed his will as required.

Even Vatican News, the Holy See’s in-house media which has been sympathetic to the prosecutors’ case from the start, acknowledged that the defense had provided a “change in prospective for the narrative of the trial.”

Continue reading at the Associated Press