C.: “Listen, you should go to San Sosti (village in Calabria, Italy), there my mother can organize for you a meeting with Silvana… She is perfect and it’s one of my cousins, so we can even preserve the genetic heritage. Then let me know what you think about it. 36 years old. Gentle.”
C.: “Tuesday night she comes directly to your house to fuck. Ok?”
C.: “Silvana wants to fuck. What do we do?”
B.: “I don’t want to.”
C.: “You are perfect, Silvana is extremely gentle. Why don’t you want to?”
B.: “Let it go. She is ugly.”
C.: “The psychiatrist says you should have fun. Monday we drink Negroni, till we die.”
This is one of the many transcriptions of tapped SMS, which was published for the first time in the Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale, in its three editions: Il Giorno, Il Resto del Carlino, La Nazione. The most of the readers probably have thought that this was a conversation between two mafiosi or eventually between two corrupted entrepreneurs or politicians. If you have an eye for details and have spot that in the first line is mentioned a village in Italy, you may have thought that B. stands for Berlusconi. Maybe, these SMS were sent when he was organizing one of his “exclusive dinner”? Well no, it’s not Berlusconi. Even if it’s hard to believe, the truth is very different and much more outrageous because C. stands for Valentina Chaouqui, a Public Relations expert and the first woman that had a powerful position concerning the Vatican finance in the history of the Church, and B. for Monsignor Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda, a Spanish priest, both known in Italy as “i corvi” (Literally “the crows”, in the Italian tradition the crow is the personification of the devil. .
To understand completely this story, we need to take a step back in 2013, precisely when Pope Francis was elected. He became immediately aware of the tremendous situation of the Vatican finances and decided to ask for help to clean them up and to reform the Vatican Bank, mostly known as an institution that stores or launders blood money than an entity which promotes charity initiatives.
In order to do that, he decided to establish a special commission, where the members were personally chosen by him. Monsignor Balda and Francesca Chaouqui were part of the group, even if Mrs Chaouqui was not new to scandals (apparently the Pope did not know anything about them when he nominated her).
On the 2nd of November 2015, Monsignor Balda and Francesca Chaouqui were both arrested with the charge of passing secret Vatican documents to journalists. The journalists involved were Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who published few days later, on the 5th of November, two books with the titles respectively of “Via Crucis” (in English “Merchants in the Temple”) and “Avarizia” (not available in English yet).
The two books describe the deep corruption inside the State of God, showing for example proves of the fact that some cardinals live often at zero cost in luxurious apartments and spend their time with prostitutes or transgender, or giving proves about dubious financial and commercial dirt issues of the Vatican State. For example, in Avarizia is explained in details how commercial operations inside the Vatican generate millions of income by selling discounted products due to tax exemptions.
If it is possible, from now on the story becomes even more delirious. The Vatican State opened an investigation against Luzzi and Fittipaldi with the charge of abetting secret information and documents of the Vatican State. The Pope said during the Angelus of the 8th of November that “To steal documents is a crime, a deplorable act.” because in his opinion this way of acting generates confusion and brings to tendentious conclusions.
It’s worth to mention the reaction of don Fanzaga, a priest and the Head of Radio Maria, the Vatican Radio whose broadcast is made almost entirely by prayers and holy songs, who said that “What it is a real scandal for me are the giudas (traitors) , these journalist with their forked tongues; they make me sick, I find very difficult to pray for them, because if it was for me I would have maybe hanged them […] I want to remember to everybody that Giuda after he concluded the deal hanged himself”.
In the meanwhile, Francesca Chaouqui was released and started to talk about her relationship with Monsignor Balda. She claimed that not all the tappings were true (but she did prove wrong, for example, one in which she said to the priest “Fuck and you’ll be happy”) and that the Monsignor changed a lot since when she had met him for the first time. He was attending concerts and events and apparently he had homosexual relationships.
The story that Monsignor Balda tells is very different. He claims that he was deeply in love with Mrs Chaouqui and that he gave the documents to the journalists just because he was scared that his sexual-relationship with her would have become of public domain. Basically, he claims that he gave the secret documents to them because he was under constriction. Mrs Chaouqui was pressuring him, he says, to pass the documents because she is a secret agent, working for the Italian Secret Service.
The reconstruction of Monsignor Balda is hardly believable: it was written after the scandal exploded and was partly taken back by himself. Mrs. Chaouqui declared that his words were delirious and the two journalists complained because the media focus was on Chaouqui and Balda possible affair and not on the serious corruption that they have exposed in their books.
On the 30th of November the Pope spoke for the first time openly about Vatileaks II during a press conference (the first Vatileaks scandal happened when Ratzinger was still the head of the Church). He admitted that he was wrong when he decided to name Balda and Chaouqui as member of the special commission. He explained that Mrs Chaouqui was introduced to him by Balda himself as an expert of Public Relations and after the work in the commission was finished, Mrs Chaouqui was not allowed to stay in Vatican and, the Pope says, she did not take the news well.
In the same press conference the Pope talked also about the press, without making any references to the two books that have created him so many problems. “The most important thing is that they (the journalists) are professional and that they do not manipulate the news. […] A journalist that he is a real professional if he is wrong asks for forgiveness: ‘I thought but then I realized that I was wrong and in this case everything is fine’.”
The Pope wanted the trial for Vatileaks II to be finished before the beginning of the Jubilee, but this wasn’t possible. Therefore it will continue in February. It will establish the responsibilities of Balda and Chaouqui, and there is a possibility that the two journalists will be sentence from four to eight years of prison in the Vatican State.
The real scandal is not the corruption of the Vatican, a well known issue unfortunately, but the fact that two journalists of a secular state (Italy), whose only fault is the fact that they have written true things, are under process because the freedom of expression and the concept of protected sources are not respected in the Vatican. The non-respect for these ideas has already been expressed by the Pope himself before, as you can read in this article of the Vatican Radio here.
Even if the focus of this article is not on the contents of the books, already two best-sellers sold all over the world, but on the reactions that the Church had about them, it’s important to remember that not a single word was refuted. I think this is enough to make the readers curious and to let them judge for themselves. We will wait the end of the trial and hope to see some clarity in this holy corrupted mess.
*This is a translation. The original text of the tapping is the following:
C.: “Senti scrive ora che vai a San Sosti (il paese in Calabria di cui è originaria) mia mamma ti porta da Silvana… è perfetta, ed è una mia cugina, così può anche essere salvato il patrimonio genetico. Poi mi dici che ne pensi. 36 anni. Morbida”.
C: “Martedì sera viene a casa tua a trombare. Ok?”
C.: “Silvana vuole trombare. Che facciamo?”
B.: “Io no”
C: “Tu sei perfetto, Silvana è morbidissima. Perché non va bene?”.
B.: “Lassa perdere. È bruta”
C: “Ha detto lo psichiatra che devo farti divertire. Lunedì Negroni fino alla morte”.