Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, has denied rumors of involvement in a scheme to overpay for remodeling on his Vatican apartment in order to benefit an Italian businessman and longtime friend. Meanwhile, questions remain about how the businessman was able to bill two different Vatican departments almost $1 million for the same work, which was never even finished.
A Vatican trial focusing on a financial scandal involving a papally-sponsored hospital, and featuring a powerful cardinal at the heart of the affair, may be on hiatus until early September, but that doesn’t mean questions surrounding the case are taking a vacation.
Instead, they seem to be multiplying almost by the day.
Just in the past week, there have been conflicting reports about whether that cardinal, Italian Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, did or didn’t provide a previously unknown memo to investigators last November, offering a chronology of his actions in the affair and rejecting any suggestion of involvement in fraud.
Some are also asking question why Bertone was never even a subject of the Vatican investigation, despite long-standing ties to the Italian businessman who benefited from it.
Finally, there are also question marks about how the situation reflects on the broader project of Vatican reform under Pope Francis, at a time when his hand-picked auditor general, Italian Libero Milone, has departed under mysterious circumstances, and his pick to head the new Secretariat for the Economy, Cardinal George Pell, is home in Australia facing sexual abuse charges.