Vatican’s sacked auditors sue Holy See


Two former Vatican financial auditors – Libero Milone and Ferruccio Panicco are suing the Vatican Secretariat of State.

They are demanding the Catholic Church pay for damages to their reputations caused by their unceremonious sacking in 2017.

Milone (pictured with the Pope) was the Vatican’s first auditor general. Panicco was his deputy.

Pope Francis appointed Milone to the auditor general’s role. Milone’s brief was to clean up Vatican finances and raise accounting procedures to international standards of accountability and transparency.

He and his deputy were sacked two years later by Cardinal Archbishop Angelo Becciu.

Milone says at first he had good relations with Francis, telling him “everything I found” and meeting him regularly.

But that changed in 2016. That was about the same time he requested more information from Becciu on the purchase of a London building. He suspected Francis did not receive his letters after that.

Soon after, both auditors were sacked.

Milone blames this on Becciu, who until Francis fired him in 2020 was the third-highest-ranking official at the Vatican.

Becciu masterminded “operation eject-Milone”, the ousted auditor says.

When Becciu sacked Milone in 2017, he told reporters Milone “went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me”.

Milone denies this.

“We did the right thing, we never spied, we have been honest, we did what we had to do, but unfortunately what we had to do was very embarrassing,” he says.

Meanwhile, in 2020 Pope Francis fired Becciu. He is currently one of 10 defendants at a trial in the Vatican on charges including corruption and embezzlement related to the purchase of a building in London. All of them deny any wrongdoing.

So far the Vatican has made no comment on the lawsuit, which Milone and Panicco’s lawyers filed last week with the Vatican prosecutor’s office.

He sees his firing as a battle between “the Middle Ages and modernity”. He is calling out “the small mafia at the Vatican” that was offended by his findings of lapses in the Catholic institution’s finances, including “many cases of rule violations, improper predisposition of accounting records, and incorrect registrations.”

Becciu says he has nothing new to say about the Milone case, that it was the pope who ordered Milone’s ousting and that he merely carried it out.

His lawyers say Milone has given “a completely unfounded reconstruction” of events in the legal filing.

Milone and Panicco’s 53-page legal filing alleges that “a filter” was put up which made it difficult for Milone to reach the pope, who was the target of a “disinformation operation” by some in the Vatican.

Milone says he has proof that several Vatican offices concealed transactions or obstructed auditors’ attempts to see real estate and investment portfolios. He also pointed to significant anomalies in the management of funds at the Catholic pediatric hospital Bambino Gesù.



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