VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Thursday that its prosecutor is investigating two former officials of a Vatican-owned children’s hospital over renovations at the penthouse apartment of the city-state’s former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The Vatican statement confirmed a report in Espresso magazine that Giuseppe Profiti, the Bambino Gesu hospital’s former president, and Massimo Spina, its ex-treasurer, were under investigation. The Vatican said the investigation was ongoing but did not say when it began.
The report by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, among five defendants on trial at the Vatican in a leaked documents case, said the renovations totaled 422,000 euros ($480,000) — more than twice the 200,000-euro sum that Fittipaldi revealed previously in a book that led to the leaked document charges.
Bertone has repeatedly denied that he authorized or solicited any such payments related to the apartment, a position reiterated by his lawyer, Michele Gentiloni Silverj, in a statement after Espresso’s report appeared on its website. Bertone himself is not under investigation.
Silverj said that a letter that Profiti sent to Bertone on Nov. 8, 2013, which was posted with the article on Espresso’s website, “totally confirms the veracity” of Bertone’s version of events, while Bertone’s reply, the lawyer said, makes clear the cardinal’s intention was that nothing be charged to the hospital’s foundation.
In the letter, Bertone said the funding would be made available by unnamed third parties, and not fall to the hospital foundation.
Bertone, who has insisted he paid for the renovations himself, has already sought to make amends with a 150,000-euro donation to the hospital for medical research. Bertone has stressed the donation was voluntary and not a repayment.
Bertone was formerly the secretary of state, the Vatican’s No. 2 official, under Pope Benedict XVI and for the first months of Francis’ papacy. Now 81, he no longer holds any top Vatican post.
The trial against Fittipaldi, another journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, two former officials of a papal reform commission and another defendant is set to resume next week.