ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican's former auditor general is saying he was prevented from reporting financial corruption to Pope Francis for more than 18 months prior to his forced resignation in June by higher-ups in the Vatican.
Speaking to reporters in Rome on Saturday, Libero Milone, who as auditor general was supposed to report financial irregularities directly to the pope, said, "I feel very sorry for the pope. I had a splendid, indescribable relationship with him, but over the last 18 months, they stopped me seeing him. Obviously, they did not want me to tell him about some of the things I had seen."
Accused by curial officials Sunday of "exceeding its powers," the Office of Auditor General (AG), directed by Milone since his appointment in June 2015, was given broad powers by Pope Francis to track Vatican finances and answered directly to the Holy Father. The Vatican's description of this office that was created by the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis in February of 2015 reads, "The Office of the Auditor General operates in full autonomy and independence within the existing legislation and with its own Statute and reports directly to the Holy Father."
As part of the reform of the curia desired by Pope Francis, a lay independent auditor was added to the Vatican's reform team to oversee, among other things, financial corruption. Milano, the first and only person to hold this post, said at the time he was hired he was told by Vatican officials that he'd be completely independent and be directly under the Roman Pontiff.
Milone told reporters Saturday that he'd been stymied in performing his role as AG by having the Holy Father isolated from him since April 2016. "I think the pope is a great person, and he began with the best intentions," said Milone. "But I'm afraid he was blocked by the old guard that's still wholly there, which felt threatened when it understood that I could relate to the pope and to [Cdl. Pietro] Parolin what I had seen in the accounts."
Troubles began in September 2015 when Milone suspected his office computer had been compromised. He hired an independent firm at that time to investigate the hack because, as he says "there are no such specialized people" in the Vatican. Apparently, Vatican officials took exception to this very action saying in a press release Sunday, "Unfortunately, it emerged that the office directed by Dr. Milone, exceeding its powers, illegally engaged an external company to conduct investigative activities on the private life of Holy See personnel."
Milano related on Saturday that in June he was falsely accused of misuse of funds in hiring the outside firm to examine his computers and was then intimidated into resigning or facing criminal charges. "The facts presented to me on the morning of the 19th [of June] were fake, fabricated," attested Milano. "I was in shock. All the reasons had no credible foundation."
The second issue with using the outside firm to investigate the tampering of his computer seems to be that the firm went too far. Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the Vatican's deputy Secretary of State, said in an interview on Sunday that Milone was spying on him and others. "He went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me," remarked Becciu. "If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him."
Milone rejects this notion. "They accused me of having improperly looked for information on Vatican members. I found out they had been investigating me for seven months. I was only doing my job, commented Milone." He added that he had wanted "to do good for the Church, to reform it like I was asked but they wouldn't let me."