Wednesday, October 16, 2019

CNS photo/Paul Haring

CNS/Paul Haring

Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti (L), the new Commander of the the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps. Photo Credit: Vatican News

Top, the new commander of the Vatican security force, Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti, walks beside the Pope’s popemobile in St. Peter’s Square today. He is the new Commandant of the Pope’s security force, the Vatican Gendarmes. The second photo is another image of Gauzzi published today by Vatican News, the Vatican’s new, centralized, official news service (link). The third photo shows the old commander, Domenico Giani, who resigned on Monday, October 14, walking just behind Pope Francis. Giani had headed the Vatican police force throughout the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, and for the entire pontificate of Pope Francis

Security changes in the Vatican

Today was a fresh and clear in Rome… blue sky, sunny, dry, a light breeze.

Pope Francis was present at his General Audience this morning, and I was able to observe him from a short distance away, with a small group of pilgrims.

The Pope appeared in good health and spirits, waving to the crowds of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Today was an anniversary.

On this day — October 16 — 41 years ago, in 1978, Pope John Paul II was elected Pope.

The papal conclave of October 1978 was triggered by the death of Pope John Paul I on 28 September just 33 days after his election on 26 August. The conclave to elect John Paul I’s successor began on 14 October and ended two days later on 16 October, after eight ballots. (link)

Giani resigns, Gauzzi assumes his post

Today was the first papal General Audience in more than a decade that the Vatican’s security forces have not been led by Commandant Domenico Giani, who handed in his resignation on Monday, October 14.

As expected, Giani was succeeded by Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti, an expert in cyber-security who has been the Vice Commandant for almost a year.

There was some interesting information today in this report in America, by Gerard O’Connell, link.

O’Connell notes: “The Vatican statement revealed that the man who now becomes Pope Francis’ main bodyguard or ‘guardian angel’ was part of the unit responsible for managing the ‘technological security’ of the 2005 and 2013 conclaves.”

O’Connell adds: “Commander Giani’s resignation had a strong emotional impact on many people working in the Vatican. Many were surprised, some felt sad, and others were dispirited at how it ended.”

And O’Connell concludes: “Commander Gauzzi will face his first major challenge when Pope Francis visits Thailand and Japan in the second half of November.”

Here is the Vatican News report on this event (link):

Pope appoints new Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie

Pope Francis on October 15 appointed Gianluca Gauzzi Broccolettias the new Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps.

A day after Domenico Giani, the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie resigned his post, Pope Francis appointed Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti as the new Commander.

Broccoletti, who was deputy director and deputy commander under Giani, is now also the director of the Directorate for Security Services and Civil Protection of the Vatican City State.

Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti was born in Gubbio, Perugia on 3 June 1974, and graduated in safety engineering and protection from the “La Sapienza” University in Rome. Married with two children, he joined the Gendarme Corps in 1995. Since 1999 he has been responsible for the design and development of the infrastructure of networking technology and security of the Vatican City State and cyber security.

In 2010 he was transferred to the Operational Security Centre, gradually advancing in responsibilities and corresponding levels until he reached the rank of manager in 2017, and deputy director and deputy commander in 2018. Over the years, he has established a relationship of trust with the various special Secretariats of the Holy Father, the Supreme Authorities of the Governorate and the Secretariat of State, where competence and professionalism were required for confidential investigations.

He has accompanied the Supreme Pontiff on numerous apostolic journeys and pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world. He also coordinated the summer stays of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and served as deputy commander of the Detachment of Castel Gandolfo during the summer stay of Pope Benedict XVI in the Pontifical Villas. He was part of the staff responsible for managing technological security during the 2005 and 2013 Conclave.

He has served as delegate of the director of the Security and Civil Protection Services in various circumstances for meetings with the City of Rome and the various police forces relating to so-called “major events” when the presence of the Holy Father is expected. He has attended numerous courses, seminars and internships with the various Italian and international police forces.

Pope Francis yesterday decided to visit Giani, his wife, and their daughter (their son lives in the United States) in their home inside Vatican City.

On Tuesday evening, October 15, he went to speak to them personally and to tell Giani’s wife and daughter how much he appreciated the work of their husband and father for so many years. (link)

Edward Pentin of the American weekly National Catholic Register had a quite interesting account today of this shuffle in the Vatican’s security services. (link)

Here is the central part of this important report:

“His (Giani’s) departure comes after months of talk in Rome that the former Italian Secret Service officer was ‘on his way out’ and some surprise that he had kept his job for so long.

“’The reason why he has resigned is fake,’ said an informed source. ‘They could not find a good reason to dismiss him, they did not want to disclose the internal reasons for doing so, and so used this story as an easy instrument to get him out.’

“Anonymous sources cited a number of reasons, one in particular being that he was too closely allied to the ‘old guard’ and involved in resistance to clearing out financial and other corruption in the Vatican.

“This came into sharp focus during the dismissal of the Vatican’s first auditor general, Libero Milone, in 2017. Milone told media at the time he had been forced out after launching an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving an unnamed Italian cardinal.

“He said his phones were bugged and computers hacked and that Cardinal Angelo Becciu (then sostituto, deputy secretary of state) had told Milone to resign on the basis of a seven-month investigation by Vatican police.”


“’I was threatened with arrest,’ he said, adding that Giani ‘intimidated me to force me to sign a resignation letter that they had already prepared weeks in advance.’”

“Milone also said he suspected that his forced dismissal was linked to the arraignment of Cardinal George Pell, who was then serving as the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, on sexual-abuse charges in Australia, as the two events occurred within a week of each other. Both were uncovering extensive evidence of financial mismanagement at the time.


“Now comes the recent raid on the Secretariat of State [October 1, 2019], carried out by Giani on the orders of Vatican prosecutors, which, as the Register reported, was aimed primarily at Cardinal Becciu and previous employees of the dicastery.

“L’Espresso reported that it focused on misuse of Peter’s Pence and a dubious London property transaction. The Financial Times this week revealed more about the latter, in particular that $200 million in Swiss bank accounts controlled by the Secretariat of State were used in 2014 to finance a luxury property development in London’s Chelsea district. The Financial Times reported that the property generated large profits for a company that also managed the investment for the Holy See while Cardinal Becciu was sostituto.”


Pentin then writes:

“The main question being asked, in addition to questions over financial misconduct, is why was the Secretariat of State handling property at all? All Holy See real estate is the responsibility of another dicastery, the Administration of Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).

“Cardinal Becciu told the Register Oct. 12 he preferred ‘to keep silent and let justice take its course. Of course, the truth will come out.’

“Giani is not suspected of involvement in that affair, but his closeness to Cardinal Becciu and collaboration with him is a focus of discussion…”

Pentin concludes:

“Writing in Italy’s Start Magazine Oct. 14, Andrea Mainardi noted that Giani investigated ‘questions of sex and drugs, of disloyal employees and, above all, money’ during the ‘Vatileaks’ scandals of 2012 and 2015.

“Numerous sources, on condition of anonymity, have told the Register in recent months that Giani knew ‘everything about everyone’ and was widely reputed to be the ‘most powerful man in the Vatican’ — so much so that some Vatican insiders would say even the Pope and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, were ‘scared of him.’”

“The Register has also frequently heard allegations in recent years of Vatican offices, particularly in the Secretariat for the Economy, being heavily bugged. As well as in the auditor general’s office, two devices reportedly were found in the offices of Cardinal Pell. Giani and his officers would have placed them there, the sources say.”

[Read the whole Register story here.)

Note to readers: Anyone who would wish to support this work is invited to visit this link. All donations of any size would be very helpful. —RM

Hilarion on Ukraine and Constantinople

Meanwhile, in the East, Metropolitan Hilarion today had some reflections to make on the situation of the Church in Ukraine. (link)

The interview was published on the website of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. Here are excerpts:

Metropolitan Hilarion: The rupture with Constantinople has not damaged either the Russian or the Ukrainian Church

The chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, gave an interview to the TASS News Agency

– Most contradictory reports are coming, mostly from anonymous sources, about the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Church held last Saturday. Could you explain what decisions were made at it and how they are assessed by the Russian Church?

Metropolitan Hilarion: So far, it is from the press that we have learnt what the Greek Church decided at its Council. The Council’s communique has been published and the speech of Archbishop Hieronymos has been published. All this has to be thoroughly analysed of course, before we can make any conclusions. A reaction to this event will follow, and this reaction will be formulated by the Holy Synod of our Church, which will meet in the nearest future to consider this and other issues.

– For the ten years that you have headed the Department for External Church Relations, much has changed in the Russian Church’s relations with non-Orthodox Christians, with other Orthodox Churches, with foreign states. What tasks were faced by the ‘church diplomacy’ ten years ago and how do see them now? Generally, how the building of the Church’s dialogue with the world differs from secular diplomacy?

Metropolitan Hilarion: The tasks facing the DECR are always the same. However, as the surrounding world changes, the situation changes and some events happen that need a reaction, so the accents in the work of the Department shift accordingly. For instance, a considerable part of our time and attention was given to the preparation of a Pan-Orthodox Council. We expected it to be really a Pan-Orthodox Council to settle issues important for the Orthodox Church, but since a number of churches refused to attend the council, we had to refuse too. After that, events in the Orthodox world began developing sweepingly and, regrettably, in a negative direction. In the end of the last and the beginning of this year, there have been developments that actually implied a schism in the family of the Orthodox Churches.

What happened in Athens on Saturday is a deepening of this schism. It is difficult to say now how far it may go. When in 1054, the papal legates came to Constantinople to clarify the relations with the Patriarch of Constantinople and the clarification of the relations led to a break of the Eucharistic communion between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, nobody could have foreseen that this division would last for a thousand years and how grave its consequences would be.

I think it is very important now to try to look ahead. Among those who play chess, there are those who are able to calculate the situation in only one move in advance while there are those who can calculate it in many moves in advance. Now we have to determine what our next steps would be and what risks they would involve. Anyway, we should not act emotionally, under the influence of indignation and bewilderment; we should thoroughly and calmly weigh everything and with prayer make a decision for which we will be responsible afterwards.

– The rupture of liturgical communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople was a difficult decision for the Church. How has it affected the situation of Orthodox Christian in Ukraine? Is there still a hope for the unification of the split Church, and what is the principal obstacle for it?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I should say that the rupture with Constantinople has not affected in any way the internal life of the Russian Orthodox Church, including its self-governed part – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, we continue living as we used to live, we continue serving as we used to serve, we continue celebrating as we used to celebrate Pascha and other great feasts. We have not felt any damage done by this rapture.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople has made a great mistake, and it continues insisting on this mistake, demanding that other Local Churches should recognize the so-called ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’ as well. However, we can see that the OCU has not succeeded as a Church. From the very beginning, it was made up of two schismatic groups; within only a few months of its existence, it has had time to divide into two parts, and the church people have not followed this group. Patriarch Bartholomew assumed that the episcopate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church would join this group as soon as it received a tomos of autocephaly. The tomos was received but the episcopate remained rallied around His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy; the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church have stated their desire to preserve unity with the Russian Orthodox Church and their full satisfaction with the present status of the Church. It is quite clear that the schism has not been overcome; on the contrary, there is a deepening division.

See the rest of the interview here: (link)

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