Resignation of Pope’s Bodyguard Signals Tension Amid Vatican Finance Leaks

Vatican head of security Domenico Giani, right, flanks Pope Francis’ popemobile at the end of a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Oct. 13, 2019. The Vatican said Monday that Francis’ chief bodyguard has resigned over the leak of a Vatican police flyer identifying five Holy See employees who were suspended as part of a financial investigation, adding that Giani bore no responsibility for the leak but that he had resigned to ensure the serenity of the investigation and “out of love for the church and faithfulness” to the pope. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis’ “guardian angel” handed in his wings on Monday. Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican police force, submitted his resignation amid the latest leaks and scandals surrounding the Catholic institution’s finances.

“In order to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation,” the statement Monday (Oct. 14) by the Vatican reads, “and although the Commander bears no personal responsibility in the unfolding of the events, Domenico Giani has tendered his resignation to the Holy Father out of love for the Church and faithfulness to Peter’s Successor.”

The statement acknowledges that the perpetrator of the latest leak “remains unknown,” even though it was distributed only among the Vatican police force, the Gendarmerie, and the Swiss Guards. The statement also says that Francis recognizes Giani’s “unquestionable faithfulness and loyalty,” which guaranteed “a lasting atmosphere of ease and security around the Holy Father.”

According to local media outlets, the reason behind Giani’s dismissal is due to the latest wave of leaks surrounding foreign investments by the Vatican Secretariat of State. A document obtained by Italian news magazine l’Espresso on Oct. 2 and signed by the former police head showed pictures of five Vatican employees barred from entering the Catholic city-state.

The pictures of the people in question, two of whom are employed in high-profile institutions in the Vatican (the Vatican anti-money laundering organization AIF and the Secretariat of State), resembled mugshots even though the document made no mention of the nature of the allegations against them.

“An inquiry was launched by the Holy Father,” said Vatican spokesmen Matteo Bruni to local media this weekend, “on the illicit distribution of a document intended for internal use by the security forces of the Holy See.”

Bruni said that “the gravity” of this leak is comparable, in the words of Pope Francis, “to a mortal sin, because it is damaging to the dignity of the people and of the principle of presumption of innocence.”

Rumors that Francis was looking to assign the head of the Vatican Gendarmerie to another position have been circulating for months. But a closer look at the 20-year tenure of the “comandante” raises questions as to why he was allowed to continue in his position for so long.

In 1999, Giani became the deputy of Camillo Cibin, former Vatican police chief, and tackled a woman attempting to attack then-Pope Benedict XVI during Christmas celebrations in 2008 and again in 2009. Giani became inspector general of the Gendarmerie Corps in June 2006 and the personal bodyguard to Pope Francis and his predecessor.

Giani has been a fixture at papal audiences and apostolic visits for two decades, a time that included some of the most perilous moments in the Catholic Church. The Vatileaks scandals in 2012 and 2015 shed light on the administration of Vatican finances by the Institute for Religious Works, also known as the Vatican bank. Both these scandals occurred during Giani’s tenure and he led the investigations on the cases.

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Source: Religion News Service