An advance copy of Merchants in the Temple by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, detailing claims of mismanagement and internal resistance that has been thwarting Pope Francis’s financial reform efforts, has been obtained by the Associated Press.
Here are five key claims made by Nuzzi in his book, which is due to be published on Thursday:
1. Citing emails, minutes of meetings, recorded private conversations and memos, the book paints a picture of a Vatican bureaucracy entrenched in a culture of mismanagement, waste and secrecy.
2. Nuzzi cites a report by the commission set up by Pope Francis to look into the Vatican’s financial affairs that found the value of Vatican real estate was some 2.7 billion euros, seven times higher than the amount entered onto the balance sheets. Rents were sometimes 30 to 100 per cent below market value, the commission found, including some apartments that were given free to cardinals and bureaucrats as part of their overall compensation or retirement packages. The book says that if market rates were applied, homes given to employees would generate income of 19.4 million euros rather than the 6.2 million euros currently recorded, while other “institutional” buildings which today generate no income would generate income of 30.4 million euros.
3. On the issue of canonisation Causes, Nuzzi estimates that the average cost of a single Cause is around 500,000 euros and has gone as high as 750,000 euros for one beatification. Funding comes from donors eager to see their candidate honoured. Causes that inspire wealthy donors get lots of funding, poorer causes get little — and often get stalled as a result. After the Vatican’s saint-making office told the commission it had no documentation about the postulators’ funding or bank accounts, the commission had the postulators’ accounts frozen at the Vatican bank, Nuzzi says.
4. Nuzzi claims a break in on March 30, 2014, at the offices of the commission, which led to the theft of commission documents, was an inside job, as the thieves knew exactly which locker to target to get the documents.
5. Five international auditors wrote to Francis in June 2013, says Nuzzi, reporting “a complete absence of transparency in the book-keeping both of the Holy See and the Governorate,” They added, “Costs are out of control. This applies in particular to personnel costs, but it also extends elsewhere.”