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Former head of Vatican hospital guilty of abuse of office

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A Vatican court found the former president of the Vatican-owned pediatric hospital guilty of abuse of office for using donations belonging to the hospital’s foundation to refurbish a Vatican-owned apartment used by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.

Giuseppe Profiti, second from right, former president of Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, and Massimo Spina, right, former treasurer of the hospital, are pictured during their sentencing at the Vatican court Oct. 14. Profiti was found guilty of illicit appropriation and use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation. He was given a suspended sentence of one year in jail and a 5,000 Euro fine. Spina was absolved of the charges. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Originally charged with embezzlement, Giuseppe Profiti was sentenced to one year in jail and fined 5,000 euros ($5,900) on the reduced charge, but the sentence was suspended. The three-judge tribunal dismissed charges against Massimo Spina, the hospital’s former treasurer. The judgments were handed down Oct. 14.

The original indictment said Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital from 2008 to 2015, and Spina extracted 420,000 euros for non-institutional ends from 2013 to 2014 by using hospital foundation money to refurbish Vatican property in order to benefit a construction company owned by Gianantonio Bandera. The company, Castelli Re, went bankrupt in 2014.

Profiti argued in court that the money had been an investment because the apartment’s refurbished areas were to be used for fundraising events to benefit the hospital.

Vatican prosecutor, Roberto Zanotti, said in closing arguments that the deal reflected “opacity, silence and poor management” in the way Vatican assets were handled.

Cardinal Bertone, who was not asked to appear in court, had said he paid 300,000 euros from his own savings for the work; however, the hospital foundation also paid the construction company 422,000 euros. Cardinal Bertone also donated 150,000 euros to the hospital because of the loss they incurred.

Bandera had been asked to provide a six-figure “donation” to the hospital foundation, according to trial testimony. Spina testified he tried to get the “donation” from Bandera, but Bandera cited financial difficulties with the bankruptcy.

It’s not the first time Profiti faced charges of financial crimes.

He had been sentenced to six months’ house arrest while he was still hospital president after being found guilty in 2008 of taking bribes and kickbacks at a different job. As president of Italy’s Liguria region, he was found guilty of the impropriety when assigning or promising contracts to companies bidding for providing food services to public schools and hospitals in the cities of Genoa and Savona. At least four others were found guilty in the same investigation.

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Former Vatican hospital officials indicted for illegal use of funds

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Vatican magistrates have formally indicted two former officers of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital on charges of illegally using funds to help finance the remodeling of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s apartment.

Giuseppe Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital until 2015, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, will be called to appear before Vatican judges beginning July 18, the Vatican press hall announced in a statement July 13. If the two men do not present themselves to the court on the opening trial date, they will be charged with contempt, the Vatican statement said.

Pope Francis blesses a sick child in Paul VI hall at the Vatican last year during a meeting with patients and workers of Rome's Bambino Gesu children's hospital. The Vatican announced on July 13 that two former officers of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital have been indicted on charges of illegally using funds(. CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis blesses a sick child in Paul VI hall at the Vatican last year during a meeting with patients and workers of Rome’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital. The Vatican announced on July 13 that two former officers of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital have been indicted on charges of illegally using funds(. CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

After a more-than-yearlong Vatican investigation, Profiti, Spina and their lawyers were notified of the charges June 13 and had until July 11 to supply evidence for their defense.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, will not be part of the trial proceedings because he is a member of the Bambino Gesu hospital’s board of directors, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

According to the Vatican announcement, Profiti, 55, and Spina, 57, were being charged with illicit use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation to pay Gianantonio Bandera, an Italian contractor, to refurbish an apartment belonging to Vatican City State and used as the residence of Cardinal Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.

It said Profiti and Spina were paid more than 420,000 euros for “completely non-institutional ends” by using the money to refurbish Vatican property in order “to benefit Gianantonio Bandera’s company.” It said the alleged crime committed in Vatican City State spanned from November 2013 to May 28, 2014, the time period that the contractor’s seven invoices were dated and paid for, according to news reports.

Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008, resigned in January 2015, less than a year into a renewed three-year term, amid rumors of the alleged financing. The revelations emerged after Emiliano Fittipaldi, a journalist acquitted in a Vatican trial in 2016 for publishing allegedly stolen Vatican documents, published his findings in early 2016.

Based on Fittipaldi’s investigation and according to letters published by L’Espresso magazine March 31, 2016, Profiti wrote the cardinal in late 2013, allegedly offering to pay for the remodeling using the foundation money in exchange for being able to use the top floor of the cardinal’s residence for work-related gatherings.

In a letter of reply the next day, the cardinal allegedly accepted the proposal, adding that he would make sure the costs were taken care of by a “third party” so that the foundation would not have to pay.

Mariella Enoc, current hospital president, told reporters in late 2015, “Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital’s foundation), but recognized that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of 150,000 euros.”

Cardinal Bertone repeatedly disputed news reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, and he insisted that he personally paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, for the work done.

Cardinal Bertone was not under investigation.

Profiti had been sentenced with six months’ house arrest while he was still hospital president after being found guilty in 2008 of bribes and kickbacks when assigning or promising contracts to companies bidding for providing food services to public schools and hospitals in the cities of Genoa and Savona. At the time, Profiti had been the head of the region of Liguria, where the cities are found in northern Italy. At least four others were found guilty in the same investigation.

 

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At children’s hospital, pope warns of a cancer in ‘sickness industry’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Corrupt business practices that seek to profit from the sick and the dying are a cancer to hospitals entrusted with the care of the most vulnerable, especially children, Pope Francis said. Read more »

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Vatican investigating financing of cardinal’s apartment

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Vatican judicial authorities are investigating the former president and former treasurer of its Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in a case involving payments for remodeling work on the Vatican apartment where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone lives.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state, walks during the Good Friday service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 25. Vatican judicial authorities are investigating the former president and former treasurer of its Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in a case involving the financing of remodeling work on the Vatican apartment where Cardinal Bertone lives. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state, walks during the Good Friday service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 25. Vatican judicial authorities are investigating the former president and former treasurer of its Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in a case involving the financing of remodeling work on the Vatican apartment where Cardinal Bertone lives. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Giuseppe Profiti, former hospital president, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, are under investigation, said Greg Burke, assistant director of the Vatican press office.

Cardinal Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state, is not under investigation, Burke told reporters March 31.

Profiti resigned in January 2015 amid rumors that a significant amount of money from the foundation supporting the child’s hospital was used to help pay for the remodeling of Cardinal Bertone’s Vatican apartment.

Mariella Enoc, current hospital president, told reporters in late December, “Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital’s foundation), but recognized that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of 150,000 euros,” about $170,000.

Emiliano Fittipaldi, a journalist on trial at the Vatican for publishing allegedly stolen Vatican documents, wrote in the Italian magazine Espresso March 31 that the total cost of combining and remodeling two apartments was almost $480,000.

Cardinal Bertone has repeatedly disputed news reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, and he has insisted that he paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, for the work done.

 

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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Pope pays pre-Christmas visit to Rome’s children’s hospital

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — With lots of kisses, but very few words, Pope Francis spent more than two-and-a-half hours visiting sick children, their parents and doctors at Rome’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital Dec. 21.

In the end, the little patients gave Pope Francis a basket filled with little notes containing descriptions of their prayers and their dreams.

Pope Francis blesses a sick child as he arrives to visit the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital in Rome Dec. 21. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

“Thank you,” the pope told the children. “We will present them together to Jesus. He knows them better than anyone; he knows what is in the depths of your hearts.

“Especially with you children, Jesus has a special bond,” the pope said. “He is very close to you.”

More than 3,000 parents, children and staff gathered outside the main entrance, keeping Pope Francis busy for a long time listening to prayer requests, giving blessings and exchanging tight hugs.

Mostly without cameras following him, the pope also visited the 12 babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, the eight children in intensive care and the 18 youngsters in the hospital’s nephrology department.

He also wandered throughout the hospital, visiting dozens of rooms, kissing the tops of heads, accepting drawings and even blessing a stuffed animal.

In the hospital chapel, he met 30 children suffering from cancer; they were the ones who gave him the basket of prayers and dreams.

Just outside the chapel, he blessed and held hands tightly with members of the “Children in Heaven” parents’ support group.

 

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