Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Vatican Arrests Opus Dei Priest, Consultant in Leaks Probe

  • Arrests involve senior Vatican official, PR consultant
  • Vatican denounces `grave betrayal' of Pope Francis's trust

Vatican police arrested a priest and a communications consultant in an investigation into the alleged leak of confidential documents, according to a statement from the Holy See.

The Vatican said Spanish Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, a superior at the Prefecture for economic affairs, and Francesca Chaouqui, a public relations consultant, were questioned last weekend and arrested. Chaouqui was released on Monday because of "her collaboration with the investigations," according to the statement.

Vallejo Balda and Chaouqui were both members of a commission created by Pope Francis to review the city-state’s economic and financial bodies.

The Roman Catholic movement Opus Dei, of which Vallejo Balda is a member, expressed its "surprise and pain" at the news. Its Rome headquarters said in a statement on its website that if the accusation was confirmed, this would be "particularly painful because of the harm caused to the Church."

Chaouqui’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said that her client was back at home.

"She contributed to the investigation and there are no longer grounds for her custody,’ Bongiorno said by phone. “She also gave documents."

The Vatican said two books reportedly exposing Vatican finances, due to be published later this week in Italy and other countries, were "the fruit of a grave betrayal of the trust given by the pope." The Vatican is considering additional measures involving the publications. The books’ Italian publishers didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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