vatikan vatican.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Dennis Jarvis, used under CC BY-SA

A top cardinal has pledged to return 150,000 euros (163,000 dollars) after he was exposed in the so-called VatiLeaks 2 affair for having his retirement flat redone at the expense of a Vatican hospital for children.

Tarcisio Bertone, former no. 2 under Pope Benedict XVI, was said to have received 200,000 euros from the Foundation of the Ospedale Bambino Gesu to renovate a 300-square-meter penthouse inside Vatican walls.

"Cardinal Bertone, recognizing that what happened damaged the Bambino Gesu, has decided to help us, devolving the sum of 150,000 euros," said hospital president Mariella Enoc, as quoted by the ANSA news agency on Saturday.

Her announcement came on the day Bertone's successor paid a pre-Christmas visit to the clinic's patients and staff. "What I can say is that the issue is being solved, or rather, has been positively solved," Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said.

In his book Avarice, published last month, Italian investigative journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi also wrote that the Bambino Gesu organized a 24,000-euro helicopter ride for Bertone, who served as secretary of state from 2006 to 2013.

A day before the book hit the stands, Parolin announced that the board of the foundation that financed Bertone's expenses had been entirely replaced. Bertone has defended himself by saying he was unaware of the donations.

Meanwhile, Vatican authorities pressed charges against Fittipaldi and and Italian investigative journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, who published a second book, Merchants of the Temple, exposing the Catholic Church's financial shenanigans.

Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, whose prosecution has outraged press freedom defenders, risk up to eight years' imprisonment.

They are being tried with the people suspected of leaking documents from a panel Pope Francis set up in 2013-14 on Vatican financial reforms: Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, his aide Nicola Maio, and Italian PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui.

The scandal surrounding the journalists' revelations has been dubbed VatiLeaks 2 in connection to the first VatiLeaks case, triggered in 2012 by another Nuzzi book that was also based on leaked Vatican documents.

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