Listen to this article Vatican Claims Disclosure Of Emails In London Real Estate Trial Is A “Grave Sin”
The Vatican is presently entangled in a legal dispute regarding the disclosure of electronic evidence in a London trial connected to a £350 million ($483 million) real estate transaction. A Vatican official stated that it would be a “grave sin” to release text messages and emails since they are protected by “pontifical secret” rules that pertain to sensitive information relating to church governance.The Vatican’s representatives contended that messages exchanged between an archbishop and a cardinal through messaging applications like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and email should be treated as state secrets, comparable to diplomatic messages. Carlos Fernando Diaz Paniagua, a Catholic priest and lawyer who presented a testimony to the London court the previous month, declared that breaching the pontifical secret was regarded as a serious transgression.
In a civil case in London, Raffaele Mincione, a defendant in the Vatican case, is pursuing damages and alleging that his reputation has been damaged by the Vatican’s accusations. As part of his case, Mincione’s lawyers requested communications between Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the Argentinian Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, two high-ranking church officials.
In response, Diaz Paniagua argued that Parolin had found no relevant documents in his emails and personal documents. Furthermore, he claimed that it was not reasonable or proportionate to undertake a search of the documents given Parolin’s peripheral involvement with the transaction.
Background and Controversy
The underlying controversy dates back to 2018 when the Vatican’s Secretariat of State claims it was defrauded by Mincione after his companies allegedly sold it the former Harrods warehouse for an inflated price. The development, which was slated for luxury apartments, could have resulted in losses of as much as £150 million ($186 million), according to the Vatican.
An investigation led to charges against 10 people, including financial brokers, Vatican officials, and a lawyer. Mincione has maintained that his client throughout the transaction was Credit Suisse.
In 2020, Mincione requested a declaration from the London court that he had acted in good faith on the deal. If the court rules in his favor, Mincione hopes it will help rehabilitate his reputation and provide a possible defense at the Vatican.
Separately, Mincione filed a claim in Luxembourg against Credit Suisse in June 2022, alleging that the bank failed to inform him that investments in his fund came from the church’s charitable arm known as Peter’s Pence. Credit Suisse denies the allegations.
The pontifical secret, also known as papal secrecy, was designed to protect sensitive information such as communications between the Vatican and papal embassies. Over the years, it has also been applied to judicial cases to protect the privacy of victims and the identities of those accused.
Critics have claimed that pontifical secrecy has been abused by some church officials to avoid cooperation with the police in abuse cases. In 2019, Pope Francis declared that the rule of pontifical secrecy no longer applied to the sexual abuse of minors.
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