Leaked documents from the Papal Foundation revealed that Pope Francis was personally connected to a Vatican financial scandal involving a money laundering hospital.
The documents show that Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, personally requested a $25 million grant from Papal Foundation for Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a dermatological hospital in Rome with liabilities of over $1 billion, according to documents obtained by LifeSiteNews. The U.S. based Papal Foundation, which is run by “stewards,” or lay people who become members, and a board composed mainly of U.S. bishops, is split over the handling of the grant, with many stewards resigning over the fact that the board gave Francis over half of it.
“As head of the Audit Committee and a Trustee of the Foundation, I found this grant to be negligent in character, flawed in its diligence, and contrary to the spirit of the Foundation,” the foundation’s audit committee chairman wrote in his resignation, according to LifeSite. “Instead of helping the poor in a third-world country, the Board approved an unprecedented huge grant to a hospital that has a history of mismanagement, criminal indictments, and bankruptcy. Had we allowed such recklessness in our personal careers we would never have met the requirements to join The Papal Foundation in the first place.”
The audit committee chairman, who is a lay steward, also presented a record of the committee’s objections to the grant. Despite their objections, the board, which includes every U.S. cardinal, awarded Francis a total of $13 million of his requested $25 million for the hospital. First, the foundation sent $8 million without any documentation explaining how the grant would be used, and then sent another $5 million after the audit committee raised alarms.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl sent the last installment, refusing to hear any of the committee’s concerns.
The hospital for which Francis requested the grant has been mired in reports of corruption since police confiscated over six million euros in 2013 in bank accounts and property from the hospital as part of an investigation. Several other instances of corruption have surfaced over the years, with reports that Italian authorities suspected Vatican Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi sent 30 million euros intended for a children’s hospital to IDI. The hospital had “about 845 million euros in balance sheet liabilities and over 82 million in diverted funds, plus the undue use of another 6 million public funds,” a court recognized in 2017.
The foundation’s executive committee sent a letter after receiving enormous backlash over the grant ordeal to apologize and try to reassure large donors. The cardinals who signed the letter, Wuerl, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, several stewards, and Foundation President Bishop Michael Bransfield, who sent it, largely dodged direct responsibility, saying that they defer to the pope. They wrote in the letter:
In fact, we have been explicit throughout our history that this is the Papal Foundation. We have worked in conjunction with the pope from the very beginning. We don’t approve every request he makes, but he is the Pope, and we listen to him, and we listen intently.
The foundation has had no record of scandals until now.