(Reuters) - The Vatican has opened an extremely rare criminal investigation into embarrassing leaks of top-level sensitive documents alleging corruption and mismanagement in several of its departments.
The investigation, announced in the Vatican newspaper on Friday, will be carried out by an internal tribunal in a bid to find out who leaked the material.
A separate, administrative investigation will be conducted by the Secretariat of State, which manages Vatican bureaucracy. Pope Benedict had also ordered a "high-level commission" to shed light on the affair, the newspaper said. The scandal, which has come to be known as "Vatileaks," involves the leaking of a string of sensitive documents to Italian media in January and February, including personal letters to the pope.
The two investigations and the establishment of the papal commission were announced in an interview with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the deputy secretary of state. Becciu denounced the leakers as cowardly and disloyal people who took advantage of their privileged position to leak documents "whose privacy they had an obligation to respect". The archbishop said the pope was very "hurt" by the leaks.
Becciu also rejected media portrayals of the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, as being populated by ambitious clerics more interested in advancing their careers than serving the Church.
Criminal investigations are very rare in the Vatican. One of the most sensational was opened after Cedric Tornay, a 23-year-old Swiss Guard who had been turned down for a promotion, killed his commander and the commander's wife before committing suicide. The Vatican investigator determined that Tornay had acted in a "fit of madness".