City opens criminal investigations against journalists over leaks

Lombardi also said that more people may be placed under investigation in the future.

Pope Francis attends a special audience with members of the Parish Evangelisation Cell System in Paul VI hall at the Vatican September 5, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The Vatican said on Wednesday that two Italian investigative journalists who published books on Catholic Church scandals based on leaked documents are facing criminal investigations.

Merchants in the Temple by Gianluigi Nuzzi and Avarice by Emiliano Fittipaldi, are thought to be based on documents from a now disbanded committee that reviewed Vatican financial affairs in 2013 and 2014.

Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi said Nuzzi and Fittipaldi were suspected of being complicit to the crime of leaking Vatican state secrets.

The probe by Vatican authorities has led to the arrest of Spanish Monsignor, Lucio Balda, who is still in jail, and of Italian PR consultant, Francesca Chaouqui, who has been released but remains a suspect.

The leak-based books suggest that Pope Francis' attempts to introduce greater transparency and prudence in Vatican finances are meeting stiff internal resistance, and accuse some top prelates of living in outrageous luxury.

In one of the cases, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican number two under Benedict XVI, is said to have had renovations worth 200,000 euros (215,000 dollars) in his 300-square-metre flat.

This was paid by the foundation of a Vatican hospital for children.

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