30 June 2020, The Tablet

Pope appoints commissioner for St Peter's investigation

Pope appoints commissioner for St Peter's investigation

Nuns in front of St Peter's, Rome last Sunday.
Pacific Press/SIPA USA/PA Images

Pope Francis has appointed a commissioner to investigate the management of the body with oversight of St Peter's Basilica. 
Along with this appointment, the Vatican has also announced that electronic devices and documents were today seized from the offices of the Fabbrica di San Pietro (The Fabric of St Peter), following a report by the Holy See's auditor.
The Fabric of St Peter has responsibility for the running and maintenance of St Peter's, the symbolic heart of the Catholic Church and home to the tomb of the first Pope. Along with being the principal church of the Successor of St Peter, it contains a vast array of renaissance artistic treasures including Michelangelo's priceless Pietà.  
The management of the basilica, which until Covid-19 struck attracted thousands of visitors a day, is led by Cardinal Angelo Comastri although operates as a separate entity to the rest of the Roman Curia. There is no suggestion the cardinal is under investigation. 
Archbishop Mario Giordana, a retired papal diplomat, has been tasked by the Pope to reorganise the "administrative and technical offices" of the Fabric and to work on updating its statutes. In a statement, the Vatican explained that in carrying out "this delicate task" he would be assisted by a commission. 
This move was taken, the Holy See explained, following a new transparency law issued by the Pope on the use of outside contractors by the Church's central administration, an important step forward in Francis' ongoing reforms of Vatican finances.  
For his part, Archbishop Giordano has carried out delicate investigations before: in 2018, he conducted internal probes into the Sistine Chapel Choir, which was then placed under investigation by the Pope for suspected financial regularities. The choir is now under new management. 
In their statement, the Vatican explained in their statement that the seizing of documents was authorised by the city state's top prosecutor, Gian Piero Milano, and adjunct promoter of justice, Alessandro Diddi. 
Much of the day-to-day work in maintaining St Peter's is carried out by craftsmen known as Sanpietrini, who are the heirs to those who built the basilica in the 16th and 17th centuries on the ancient site. The work requires venturing up into the heights of St Peter's to maintain the hard to reach parts of the building, such as the Baldachino designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. 

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