World News

Ex-auditor: I was forced out by old guard

The Vatican has accused Libero Milone of hiring an investigator to spy on staff (CNS)

The Holy See’s former auditor general has said he was forced to step down earlier this year after uncovering possible illegal activity, but Vatican officials have accused him of spying.

Libero Milone claimed that he was ousted over false accusations by those opposed to reform. He told reporters he was speaking out because “I couldn’t allow any longer a small group of powers to [defame] my reputation for their shady games. I wanted to do good for the Church, to reform it like I was asked, but they wouldn’t let me.

“I believe the Pope is a great person, and he began with the best of intentions. But I’m afraid he was blocked by the old guard that’s still entirely there, which felt threatened when it understood that I could tell the Pope and [Cardinal Pietro] Parolin what I’d seen with my own eyes in the accounts.”

But Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, the Vatican’s deputy secretary of state, told Reuters that Mr Milone’s claims were “false and unjustified”. He said: “He went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me. If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him.”

Vatican police chief Domenico Giani said there was “overwhelming evidence” against Mr Milone. The Vatican press office also accused him of “fail[ing] to uphold the agreement on confidentiality about the reasons for his resignation”.

Mr Milone, a former chairman at Deloitte, the accountancy firm, claimed he had been forced out after investigating a possible conflict of interest involving an Italian cardinal.

He said he had hired a contractor when he suspected his computer had been accessed without authorisation, and the contractor found spyware that automatically copies files.

Vatican officials alleged that he had used the contractor to spy on other people.

Family dies after church roof collapses during earthquake

At least 11 members of the same family were killed during a baptism ceremony when the church collapsed as a result of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico last week.

Two-month-old Elideth Torres de Leon, the baby who was being baptised, and her sister, mother and godmother were among those killed when the Church of St James the Apostle in Atzala in Puebla state, Mexico, collapsed.

“I have nothing left of my family,” said Elideth’s godfather Graciano Villanueva, who survived but lost his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters.

“It was a scene of horror, sadness, with most of the people inside the church dying,” priest’s assistant Lorenzo Sanchez told Associated Press.

The Archdiocese of Puebla said: “We profoundly lament the deaths that occurred due to the quake, especially the … people who died because of the collapse of the church in Atzala near Chietla; and the three in Jolopan.”

More than 200 people died in the earthquake. Many historic churches were severely damaged. In Mexico City half of the cupola of the 400-year-old Our Lady of Angels church fell to the ground.

Pope visits children at rehab clinic

Pope Francis visited children at a rehabilitation clinic in Rome last week.

The Vatican press office said he was “greeted with joy” by staff and patients who happened to see him in the car park. Senior staff accompanied Pope Francis to the ward for the rehabilitation of children with neurological diseases. He joked with them and encouraged their parents, the Vatican said. He also visited a ward of young adults who had been disabled after being in car accidents.