Pope Francis Grants Conditional Pardon to Convicted Vatileaks Priest

Msgr. Vallejo Balda will cease all ties of employment with the Holy See and return to his diocese in Astorga, Spain.

(photo: YouTube )

Just a few days before Christmas, Pope Francis has granted a "conditional pardon" to Msgr. Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda, sentenced in August to 18 months in jail for stealing and passing on documents to two Italian journalists.

In a brief statement released this evening, the Vatican said: “Considering that the Rev. Vallejo Balda has already served more than half of the sentence, the Holy Father Francis has given him the benefit of conditional release.”

It added: “It is a measure of clemency which allows him to regain freedom. The penalty is not settled, but he has the benefit of parole.”

The statement continued: “As of this evening the priest leaves the prison and all ties of employment with the Holy See ceases; he falls within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Astorga (Spain), his home diocese.”

Since his arrest in October 2015, Msgr. Vallejo has been held in custody in a Vatican jail, though later moved to a Vatican property. The Spanish priest, who some expected to be granted a pardon during the Jubilee of Mercy, recently sent Pope Francis a letter requesting forgiveness.