Rome — Vatican prosecutors are pressing charges against two former leaders of the Vatican-run Bambino Gesu hospital for allegedly redirecting funds from the hospital's foundation to pay for renovations of former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's apartment.
The Vatican announced indictments July 13 against Giuseppe Profiti, the former president of the hospital, and Massimo Spina, its former treasurer. The two have been ordered to stand trial starting July 18.
The announcement alleges the two ex-officials "used money belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation in an illicit way." It specifies that they allegedly paid more than 422,000 euros "to restore a building ... meant as the residence of the emeritus Secretary of State."
The Vatican had announced the investigation of Profiti and Spina in March 2016. Greg Burke, the director of the Holy See Press Office, said at the time that Bertone himself was not facing inquiry.
While Bertone has not admitted any guilt in the matter, he made a large donation of 150,000 euros to the Bambino Gesu in December 2015 after a book published in Italy detailed the spending on his apartment.
The cardinal, who essentially served as the Vatican’s number-two official after the pope from 2006 through October 2013, has been criticized for combining two previous apartments inside the Vatican into one reportedly 6,500-square-foot residence.
Bertone does not currently hold any significant office at the Vatican. He served as the secretary of state under Pope Benedict XVI and for the first few months of Francis' pontificate, before being replaced by Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Thursday's announcement says the alleged criminal funding by Profiti and Spina took place at the Vatican between November 2013 and May 28, 2014.
The Bambino Gesu was the subject of a recent investigation by the Associated Press that reported that conditions at the hospital under Profiti's leadership had unnecessarily put children at the risk of harm. Burke told the AP for its reporting that it was "false and unjust to suggest that there are serious threats to the health of children at Bambino Gesu."
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]