The Vatican is facing yet another scandal, this time for embezzling. Two of the former top officials of the “pope’s hospital” in Rome were indicted on Thursday for purportedly diverting half a million dollars from the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital’s funds to pay for the renovation of a high-ranking cardinal’s luxury apartment.
Giuseppe Profiti, ex-president, and Massimo Spina, former treasurer, have been accused of channeling $481,000 from the Vatican-owned hospital’s foundation in 2013 and 2014 to pay for Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone’s lavish home on his retirement as the Vatican’s secretary of state, New York Post reports.
According to Profiti, the payments were an investment, as the apartment at the San Carlo Palace in Vatican City could later be used for fund-raising events. However, Bertone, who put Profiti as president in 2008, said that he knew nothing about the donation and paid for the renovations from his own pocket.
Bertone was not included in the charges.
He was Pope Benedict XVI’s right-hand man of the cloth, and donated $170,000 to the medical center in 2015 after suspicions started arising. He clarified that the money was not a reimbursement, but a donation. He said, “It is a donation that reflects my sentimental attachment to the hospital and its little patients.”
The apartment is owned by the Vatican, but was assigned to Bertone when Pope Francis replaced him in 2013. It is close to the Santa Marta residence, where the pope now lives.
According to reports, Pope Francis was angry about Bertone’s extravagant living quarters, which is said to be ten times larger than the pope’s residence. But Bertone said that he needed more room for his secretary and three nuns who take care of him.
The indictment comes on the heels of allegations that the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital became “more aimed at profit than on caring for children” since Profiti sat at its head, turning the facility unhygienic and overcrowded.
Further reports stated that the poor state of the hospital contributed to a 21-month superbug outbreak in the cancer ward that caused eight children’s deaths.
The hospital dismissed the claims as a “hoax.”