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BY Edward Pentin
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi today issued more clarifications and updates on the Vatileaks investigation, but before he did so, he underscored the Vatican’s concern for the attacks on churches in Nigeria.
The Jesuit spokesman told reporters at a press conference the Holy See wished to convey “once again our pain and horror” over the latest atrocities, pointing out that each Sunday there appears to be another attack that is “very sad and dramatic.”
He added that the Holy See wished to convey its “attention and closeness to the Nigerian church” and hopes that a way will soon be found to resolve the situation.
The Islamist sect Boko Haram militants attacked two churches during Sunday services yesterday: one was a suicide bombing in the central city of Jos which wounded at least 50 people. In the other attack, a gunmen opened fire during a service in Biu in northeastern Borno state, leaving at least one person dead. Six people were then killed in Jos in reprisals when angry demonstrators took to the streets in protest.
The previous Sunday, at least 15 people were killed and 40 others wounded in the vicinity of a church in the town of Bauchi, in the north-east of the country.
Turning to the ongoing Vatileaks saga, Fr. Lombardi said that chief suspect, Paolo Gabriele, has applied for bail which has been presented by his lawyers and will be considered. “For now, he is still detained," Fr. Lombardi told journalists, but is allowed visits from lawyers and relatives and to attend Mass.
The Vatican spokesman denied that Gabriele, who was arrested May 23rd after confidential Vatican documents were found in his Vatican apartment, was a scapegoat. "The idea that Paolo Gabriele is a scapegoat doesn't correspond to reality,” Fr. Lombardi said. “On the contrary, the investigation that is being carried out aims to establish if one or more people are responsible.”
Fr. Lombardi asked for prudence in reporting, in particular over the people expected to be questioned. Some Italian reports said that two cardinals, 4-6 members of the laity and a journalist were to be summoned by investigators this week, but the Vatican spokesman denied the reports, saying he could not confirm those numbers.
He added that the resumption of questioning is “not imminent” and there will be no interrogations in the coming days. The Vatican police are “continuing the investigation”, he said, adding that they are focusing on those elements likely to bear most fruit.
He also said reports that the Vatican was not responding to requests from the Italian justice system were a “myth.” The allegations of non-cooperation arose over the recent stories connected with the Vatican Bank and the kidnapping of Emanuela Orlandi (a citizen of Vatican City who mysteriously disappeared in 1983, aged 15), as well as an investigation into financial troubles associated with the Italian Diocese of Trapani.
''We make it a point of honor to respond to all requests we have received,'' Fr. Lombardi said. He added that when receiving all these requests, the Holy See wants to “respond with a certain punctiliousness” and that it is “not true there is an unwillingness to collaborate.'' Even in the case Orlandi, Fr. Lombardi reiterated, “I showed in all communications the responses to the rogatory of the Italian justice system. Whether the response is welcomed or not, that’s another question.”