The spy who prayed for me

We were pleased to see Andrea Tornielli connect the dots at Vatican Insider. Just as we predicted Chaouqui and Vallejo are probably going to advance the narrative that they are helping Francis implement “real” reforms:

The two individuals responsible for leaking the documents, claim they acted in order “to help the Pope”, to “win the war” against cliques that opposed change and transparency. But Francis can’t have been overjoyed by their generous help, given that he gave his personal approval for the arrests of this odd couple, whose involvement in the whole affair did not surprise many in the Vatican.

(Emphasis in original.) But Tornielli has a long passage that draws all the threads together. We’ll quote it in full:

There are two dates that point to the origin of this last ditch effort linked to the old Vatileaks scandal. Even back then, in a series of anonymous newspaper interviews, Francesca Chaouqui backed the “poison pen letter writers”, corroborating the importance of the letters leaked by the former Pope’s butler.

The first is 18 July 2013. Francis published a motu proprio for the establishment of the commission on economic and administrative problems of the Holy See (COSEA): Vallejo was appointed secretary and to the surprise of the team in charge of screening accounts and management problems in Vatican offices and dicasteries, Chaouqui was also nominated thanks to her friend, the monsignor. Her appointment was immediately seen as too convenient: the young woman wrote a series of insolent tweets against Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and former minister Tremonti (she would later deny having written hem, claiming hackers had got into her account, only to then delete them after they had been online for months). She made no attempt to keep her links with gossip website Dagospia a secret and made completely unfounded conjectures about Benedict XVI allegedly having “leukaemia”. In an interview published on the online version of Italian news magazine L’Espresso, she announced she had access to “confidential” Vatican “papers” and that she was a good friend of Nuzzi’s. But controversies soon died down and due to the nature of her role, Chaouqui was able to freely come and go from Saint Martha’s House.

The second date is 3 March 2014. On this day, having established the Secretariat for the Economy and nominated Australian cardinal George Pell as the new Prefect, Francis announced the name of the dicastery’s number two man. Instead of appointing Vallejo Balda, as Pell had requested and believed to be certain, right up until the last moment, the Pope surprised everyone by choosing Alfred Xuereb. This came as a big blow to the Vallejo-Chaouqui duo. The Spanish prelate was convinced the position was in the bag. He had even imprudently confirmed it on a Spanish radio programme. No appointments for “commissioner” Francesca Immacolata either: while five COSEA members took up their positions in a new Vatican body, the Council for the Economy, she was left empty-handed. From this moment on, the PR woman and her tunic-clad talent scout felt they were “at war” and identified Pell as their great enemy. The friction between the Secretariat for the Economy, the Secretariat of State and the other dicasteries of the Holy See was no figment of the imagination. Francis himself intervened on a number of occasions to cut back certain powers and clearly outline duties. But for this odd couple “at war”, this was not enough.

(Emphasis in original.) As we supposed, the narrative is going to be that Chaouqui and Vallejo, honked off at being frozen out of Cardinal Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy and Cardinal Marx’s Council for the Economy, and concerned that the entrenched forces in the Curia were thwarting Francis’s reforms, went to friendly journalists to get critical information public. And this narrative is pretty common. A lot of whistleblowers are both disgruntled at being passed over for internal promotion and concerned with what they’re seeing.

However, the difficult thing for this narrative is what Magister made clear all the way back in 2013: Chaouqui was right in the middle of the original Vatileaks scandal.