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Vatican City security head resigns after confidential memo was leaked

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Vatican said Domenico Giani is not personally responsible for the leak, but tendered his resignation 'to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation'

The head of the Vatican City State’s national police force has resigned, after a confidential internal memo was leaked to the press that announced the suspension of some Vatican officials and employees and restricted their access to the Vatican.

The suspended officials were connected to an October 1 raid of some Vatican offices, part an unspecified investigation overseen by a prosecutor, called the “promoter of justice” in the Vatican City court system.

The Vatican press office said that Domenico Giani, Commander of the Vatican’s Gendarmerie, was not personally responsible for the leak.

“In order to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation, coordinated by the Promoter of Justice and carried out by the Gendarmerie, since the perpetrator of the external circulation of the order – reserved to the staff of the Gendarmerie and of the Pontifical Swiss Guard – remains unknown, 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,” an October 14 announcement from the Vatican press office said.

The memo’s leak was “prejudicial to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the Gendarmerie,” the announcement added.

Giani was Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, and had been a part of the Vatican’s security and police force for more than 20 years. The memo, issued on October 2, was signed by Giani and published by L’Espresso.

The memo was issued after the October 1 raid of offices within the offices of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Among the suspended employees is Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who oversees documentation at the Secretariat of State, along with layman Tomasso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority.

Two other men and one woman were also listed as suspended in the memo. During the raid, documents and devices were taken in connection to an investigation following complaints made last summer by the Institute for Religious Works – commonly called the Vatican Bank – and the Office of the Auditor General, concerning a series of financial transactions “carried out over time,” an October 1 Vatican statement said.

The Secretariat of State is the central governing office of the Catholic Church and the department of the Roman Curia which works most closely with the pope. It is also responsible for the governance of the Vatican City state. The Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority oversees suspicious financial transactions, and is charged with ensuring that Vatican banking policies comply with international financial standards.

Pope Francis approved new governing documents for the Vatican Bank last summer, transitioning the bank from its practice of using internal auditors to the use of an external auditor to review the bank’s finances and transactions. The bank has a long history of complex financial transactions, has faced scandals, and been criticized for a lack of financial transparency.

The pope has made reforms at the Vatican Bank a priority of his pontificate.

The October 14 statement said that Pope Francis spoke “at length” with Giani when the official presented his resignation, and “expressed his appreciation to the Commander for his gesture, an expression of freedom and institutional sensitivity, which honours Commander Giani and the work he has carried out with humility and discretion in the service of the Petrine Ministry and the Holy See.”

The press office said that Giani had brought “undisputed professionalism” to the Vatican Gendarmerie, a police and security force of more than 100 officers, which Giani led since 2006.

The Vatican Gendarmerie collaborates with the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which is responsible for the personal protection of Pope Francis. The Gendarmerie oversee general security operations in the Vatican City State, along with criminal investigations and counterterrorism operations.

Details about the nature of the investigation at the Secretariat of State have not yet been forthcoming.