Explicit messages between Vatileaks trial defendants published
PR consultant and monsignor among those on trial for leaking Vatican documents
Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi and PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui during the Vatileaks 2 trial in the Vatican. Photograph: EPA/L’Osservatore Romano
The ongoing Vatican City trial into the theft of confidential Holy See documents, popularly known as Vatileaks 2, took a sensational turn this morning when the Milan daily, Il Giorno, published a selection of “hot” text messages exchanged by two of the defendants, Spanish Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Holy See lay consultant Francesca Chaouqui.
Msgr Balda (54), who works for the Vatican Prefecture of Economic Affairs, and 33-year-old PR consultant Ms Chaouqui, are arguably the two major defendants in the Vatileaks trial. Both of them are accused of having abused their position on Cosea, a short-term economic reform commission to which they were appointed by Pope Francis in 2013.
In essence, the Vatican prosecution argues that they leaked confidential documents from the commission, documents that ended up in two current Italian best-sellers, Greed by Emiliano Fittipaldi and Merchants of the Temple by Gianluigi Nuzzi. Both authors are also on trial in Vatileaks 2.
Hundreds of text messages, usually exchanged on WhatsApp, between Msgr Balda and Ms Chaouqui depict a close relationship between the pair which steadily deteriorates. At one point, Ms Chaouqui attempts to arrange a meeting between the monsignor and her cousin, Silvana, writing to him: “On Tuesday night, she will be coming round to your place to f**k . . . You are perfect and Silvana is very soft . . .”
The monsignor declines the offer, however, replying: “Forget it, she is ugly . . .”
Il Giorno claims that the hundreds of text messages form part of the prosecution’s case against both defendants. The paper points out that, as time goes by, the once-warm relationship between the defendants deteriorates. At one point, Ms Chaouqui calls the monsignor an “egotistical pr**k” because he will not help her organise for a TV crew to do some filming in the Sistine Chapel.
In reply to that complaint, Msgr Balda reminds Ms Chaouqui of the “success” of her attempt to organise a meeting between Pope Francis and the parents of Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.
Apparently Ms Chaouqui had hoped to set up a meeting between the Renzi parents and the pope by taking them to the Domus Santa Marta residence where Francis lives. The idea was that they would “casually” bump into Pope Francis but the plan came to nothing since the pope, having been alerted by Msgr Balda, did not come down to the dining room.
“I had spent months fixing it up with the secretary of state and you went and ruined it all with that blabber mouth of yours. And now you say you are depressed. Well go f**k yourself . . . Yeah, you say you are depressed, well go and have a good f**k and it will pass.”
This is the second time this week that Italian media have carried reports of text messages between Ms Chaouqui and Msgr Balda. On Tuesday, on the opening day of the trial, daily La Repubblica alleged that the PR consultant had been furious when she had come to hear that Msgr Balda had complained about her. In essence, he had told some fellow priests that she was interfering in his life trying to control him like a “puppet master”.
“You are a worm, you’re a boll**ks . . . and you are a shit priest, it’s hard to see how you managed to take Holy Orders . . . If you try to speak ill of me again, I’ll let everyone know, publicly, just what you are,” Ms Chaouqui threatened in a message.
When the two appeared in the small Vatican courtroom on Tuesday, they were placed side by side on the defendants bench. The pool of journalists covering the trial later reported that they ignored one another and did not exchange any words.