Leaks land priest in Colombia
Monsignor Ettore Balestrero ... named in leaks scandal. Photo: AP
In one of his last appointments, the Pope has transferred a senior Vatican official after his name appeared in Italian media reports about a secret dossier on the leaking of papal documents.
The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, stressed that Monsignor Ettore Balestrero's transfer to Colombia had been planned for months, was an important promotion and had nothing to do with what the Vatican considers baseless reporting.
Monsignor Balestrero had been mentioned in reports by Panorama magazine and La Repubblica newspaper, which said the Pope had decided to resign in December after receiving a dossier allegedly detailing a network of sex and corruption inside the Vatican.
The reports cited unidentified people close to the three cardinals who compiled the document, which was the result of an internal investigation into last year's leaks case that led to the arrest, and later pardon, of the Pope's butler.
Father Lombardi, who has indicated the Pope may meet the cardinals who compiled the document before leaving office on Thursday, has declined to comment on the Italian media reports.
Monsignor Balestrero was named under-secretary of the Vatican's Foreign Ministry in 2009 and, among other tasks, has been a leading player in the Holy See's efforts to get on the so-called white list of financially transparent countries.
Pope Benedict XVI named him ambassador, or nuncio, to Colombia.
For days the Italian press has been rife with unsourced reports about the contents of the dossier, presented to the Pope in December.
The scandal erupted last year after papers taken from the Pope's desk were published in a blockbuster book. In October, the Pope's butler was convicted of aggravated theft, and later pardoned.
The Vatican has refused to comment on the media reports, which have claimed the dossier's contents were a factor in the Pope's decision to resign. The pontiff himself has said he simply no longer has the ''strength of mind and body'' to be pope.
Monsignor Balestrero was head of the Holy See's delegation to the Council of Europe's Moneyval committee, which evaluated the Vatican's anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing measures.
Some of the documents leaked amid the so-called Vatileaks scandal concerned differences of opinion about the level of financial transparency the Holy See should provide about its bank, the Institute for Works of Religion.