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10 March 2016 | by Christopher Lamb

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Pope Francis and the Roman Curia have this week been on their annual Lenten retreat.  In Ariccia, about an hour’s drive south of Rome, they stayed in a Pauline Fathers’ retreat house and listened to reflections from a respected spiritual director, Mgr Angelo De Donatis, on the theme of “the purification of the heart”.

During his reflections Francis is likely to consider the “Vatileaks” trial of five people, including two journalists, for allegedly leaking confidential financial documents of the Holy See.

With tales of espionage, sex and money, the trial was becoming something of an embarrassing distraction and the decision to prosecute journalists led to international criticism. 
Accordingly, there has been pressure to end the soap opera as quickly as possible. A hearing has been arranged for today and proceedings are due to get underway next week.    
Ending the trial sooner rather than later would have several positive outcomes. It would spare the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, from appearing as a witness and would avoid the negative publicity of sending a pregnant woman to prison: One of the defendants, PR consultant Francesca Chaouqui, is due to give birth to a son in July. And offering the defendants a papal pardon would be in keeping with the Year of Mercy.


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