A priest convicted for leaking sensitive financial documents of the Holy See has been released from jail early by Pope Francis. The Tablet has the story.
Msgr Lucio Vallejo Balda walked free from his Vatican prison cell on Tuesday night after Francis offered a Christmas-time clemency halfway through the Spanish priest’s 18-month sentence.
Msgr Vallejo Balda had been convicted of releasing documents revealing embarrassing details of financial mismanagement and corruption in the Vatican to two journalists who later cited the material in books.
His former colleague, Francesca Chaouqui, was given a 10-month suspended sentence for leaking documents, but served no jail time; she had just given birth at the time of her conviction.
In a statement yesterday the Vatican said that given Msgr Vallejo Balda had “served more than half of the sentence” the Pope was releasing him as an “act of clemency.”
The priest will cut all ties with the Holy See and now falls under the authority of his home diocese, Astorga.
The last Vatican employee sent to jail for leaking was Paolo Gabriele, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s butler, who released private papers from the papal apartments in what was the first Vatileaks scandal.
He was pardoned by Benedict after nearly three months of serving his sentence and afterwards he remained in the employ of the Holy See by going to work at the Bambino Gesu hospital.
In the latest saga, dubbed Vatileaks II, journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi wrote books based on leaked materials that exposed waste and financial mismanagement in the Church, all of it before Francis was elected Pope.
Ms Chaouqui and Msgr Vallejo Balda both sat on a top-level commission set up by the Pope to overhaul Vatican administration and finances, but Msgr Vallejo Balda allegedly became embittered after he was not granted a senior position in the new, reformed financial structures that were set up.
'Vatileaks' priest freed by Pope in act of clemency (The Tablet)
RELATED VATCIAN COVERAGE
‘Ordination in China marred by presence of illegitimate bishop’ (AP/The Catholic Herald)