VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is bracing for more revelations about alleged financial wrongdoing and mismanagement with the publication next week of two books that underscore the challenges Pope Francis is facing to reform the Holy See.
Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi's "Merchants in the Temple" follows his blockbuster 2012 book, "His Holiness," which was based on confidential papal correspondence detailing corruption and political intrigue in the Vatican. The so-called Vatileaks scandal that ensued resulted in the conviction of Pope Benedict XVI's butler for leaking the documents to Nuzzi, and some say, to Benedict's historic resignation.
On the same day, Nov. 5, Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi is releasing "Avarice: Documents Revealing Wealth, Scandals and Secrets of Francis' Church." Publisher Feltrinelli says "Avarice" maps the church's financial empire, from the luxuries cardinals enjoy to the big business of Catholic-run hospitals in Italy.
Their publication will no doubt set off a flurry of questions about the depth of opposition to Francis' reform agenda, given both books are purportedly based on leaked documents and internal information that only Vatican officials would have had access to.
On Thursday, Italian newsweekly Panorama hinted at the dangers to come with a cover story "Sabotage in Vatican," noting the pending financial revelations and detailing the recent intrigues surrounding the just-ended synod on the family, which exposed the internal battles over the direction Francis has set for the church.
Francis was elected on a mandate from his fellow cardinals to reform the Vatican's outdated bureaucracy and clean up its scandal-marred bank. But Francis' reform agenda has gone much farther — to the dismay of some on the right — by refocusing the church as a whole as a "field hospital for wounded souls" rather than a doctrinaire club of the righteous.
That has ruffled feathers inside and out of the Vatican, and the opposition came to the fore in a major way during the synod, most notably in the letter penned by 13 cardinals expressing alarm about synod procedures and the potential collapse of the Catholic Church if the synod accommodated the flock too much.
The Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, confirmed Wednesday that Francis would indeed write a document of his own about the family following the bishops' deliberations. The key question is how he handles the bitterly contested question of whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.
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