The Pope commissioner of the Fabbrica di San Pietro: “Tenders without tenders, favors and holes in the accounts” – La Stampa


VATICAN CITY. For the gendarmerie and the prosecutors in Oltretevere the holidays are very far away. After the scandal of the palace in London, the Fabbrica di San Pietro, a powerful organization that manages the Vatican basilica, now ends up under investigation and commissioner, with a millionaire turnover. To provoke the searches that took place yesterday morning in the technical and administrative offices, led respectively by the high officials Luca Virgilio and Claudio Del Cavaliere, there would be a lack of transparency in the management of the “cashier” – in a very delicate moment for ecclesiastical finances – with contracts awarded without a tender and shortcomings in the accounts, and in particular irregularities in the assignments of the restoration works of the Cupolone, which would have exceeded the authorized spending ceiling of 4 million euros. Prosecutors are allegedly investigating for embezzlement and abuse of office. The Pontiff, informed of the situation, decided to take cover by appointing 78-year-old Monsignor Mario Giordana, former apostolic nuncio to Slovakia, as extraordinary commissioner, entrusting him with the task of “clarifying the administration and reorganizing the offices”. Bergoglio’s sensational decision comes a few weeks after the promulgation of the Motu proprio which imposes public tenders in the contract award procedures.

The Reverend Fabrica Sancti Petri – this is its original name – oversees, in accordance with the Chapter of the Basilica, the construction and artistic works concerning the largest and most famous church in the world, the “heart” of Christianity. And it deals with the internal discipline of the custodians and the approximately 11 million pilgrims per year. Its story began with Julius II in 1506. It was presided over, from 2005 until the day before yesterday, by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, 76 years old, while the delegate was the bishop Monsignor Vittorio Lanzani.

The suspicions about the anomalous conduct of the contracts have been raised while for some months imposing works have been underway, highlighted by the scaffolding on the Dome, concerning the restoration of the drum, part of a conservative project made necessary by the degraded state of conservation of the stone surface. An intervention involving construction sites for at least four years.

The interim Auditor General, Alessandro Cassinis Righini, had launched the alarm. This is how the judiciary moved, which yesterday morning, after having informed the Secretariat of State, proceeded with the acquisition of documents, documents and IT material. Operation authorized by the Promotor of Justice of the Court, Gian Piero Milano, and of the Adjunct, Alessandro Diddi.

The irregularities would have emerged from the invoices of the contracting firms: in some cases they would have been duplicated, while others would prove services not foreseen by the contract.

“For some time there was a strong feeling that the management of the factory was not very transparent”, says a high prelate in the Sacred Palaces. In fact, for months already, the Auditor and the Secretariat of State would have started requests for clarifications formulated to the administrative office of the Factory, which, however, would not have provided feedback.

This new internal control and «cleaning» operation represents another element of the economic reform launched by Pope Francis, in the name of transparency: Bergoglio’s goal is to prepare active and effective «antibodies» against the underworld virus that weakens finances and image of the Church.

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