Vatican City: Two new books are deepening a Vatican scandal with tales of mismanagement and greed, such as sainthood causes that can cost up to a half-million dollars and a monsignor who allegedly breaking down the wall of his next-door neighbor a sick, elderly priest to expand his already palatial apartment.
Pope Francis has made it a top priority to reform the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, a hive of intrigue and gossip. He appointed a commission of eight experts in 2013 to gather information and make recommendations after an earlier expose helped drive his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to a historic resignation.
The leaks in the new books are seen as part of a bitter internal struggle between the reformers and the old guard. This week, the Vatican arrested two former members of the commission in an investigation into stolen documents.
A new book by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi makes some startling allegations, including a report that Vatican "postulators" officials who promote sainthood causes bring in hundreds of thousands of euros in donations for their causes but are subject to no oversight as to how the money is spent.
In his book "Merchants in the Temple," obtained today by The Associated Press two days ahead of publication, Nuzzi estimates the average price tag for a beatification cause at around 500,000 euros (USD 550,000) and some have gone as high as 750,000 euros (USD 822,000). Causes of saintly candidates who don't inspire rich donors can languish.
He also recounts a tale involving Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, a top official in the Vatican City State administration, who in 2012 apparently wanted a fancier apartment.
When Sciacca's neighbor was hospitalized for a long period, Nuzzi writes, the cardinal took advantage, broke down a wall separating their residences and incorporated an extra room into his apartment, furniture and all.
The elderly priest eventually came home to find his possessions in boxes. He died a short time later, the book says.