(Crux) Since we’re now once again in waiting mode for the Vatican’s latest criminal trial to resume, after a much-anticipated opening hearing on Thursday ended with a fairly quick decision to suspend things until Sept. 19 while new evidence is absorbed, it may be worth asking who has the most on the line in terms of the outcome.
Technically speaking, there are just two actual defendants: Giuseppe Profiti, a well-known Italian businessman and longtime Vatican confidante, and another Italian layman, Massimo Spina. Both are former officials of a foundation overseeing the papally-sponsored Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome, and both are charged with illicitly using a half-million dollars of the foundation’s money to renovate the private apartment of a prominent Vatican cardinal.
Both, theoretically at least, face three to five years in prison if convicted, not to mention fines starting at 5,000 Euro each – though were that to happen, it’s possible both could invoke their status as citizens of Italy rather than the Vatican to try to evade incarceration.
From the point of view of public opinion, however – at least in Rome, where such matters are always high drama – there may be two other actors with at least as much at risk: Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, and the much-vaunted financial reform project launched by Pope Francis shortly after his election. [More]