Rights groups are criticizing the Vatican over its decision to put on trial two Italian journalist along with three Vatican officials over the publication of two books earlier this month that detail waste, mismanagement, greed and corruption at the highest levels of the Catholic Church hierarchy. The proceedings against them started Tuesday.
Emiliano Fittipaldi's book "Avarice" and Gianluigi Nuzzi's "Merchants in the Temple" made headlines in Italian newspapers for revealing millions of euros in lost rental income from the Vatican's real estate holdings, millions in missing inventory from the Vatican's tax-free department store, supermarket and pharmacy, and huge spending by some cardinals and bishops.
Fittipaldi and Nuzzi face up to eight years in prison if convicted as charged for violating Vatican law by publishing information based on confidential documents.
Both authors have rejected the accusations.
Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi (background, center) and Vatican officials are seen on the defendants' bench at their trial inside the Vatican, Nov. 24, 2015.
The Vatican said the books give a "partial and tendentious" version of events and has accused the writers of trying to take financial advantages from receiving stolen documents from their inside contacts.
The Holy Sea was embarrassed and angered by the books, which it said used information that should have never left the walls of the city state. The authors also depict a Vatican where Pope Francis is facing resistance from the old guard to his reform agenda.
Only doing their job
As they walked into the Vatican to appear before three judges, Fittipaldi and Nuzzi said they had done nothing wrong, but only their job as journalists.
Fittipaldi said they had yet to understand what they were being accused of doing.
"We still do not know what the accusations against us are. We have just published news that has not been denied. We published documents which tell of this scandal," Fittipaldi said.
Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi, right, and Emiliano Fittipaldi, talk to reporters outside Vatican City's Perugino gate, Nov. 24, 2015.
Nuzzi said that the contents of the books are embarrassing for some individuals within the Vatican, but not for the whole Catholic Church. This is a tendency to create a diversion from such an uncomfortable situation and focus attention on something else, he said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other right groups have all called on the Vatican to drop the charges against Fittipaldi and Nuzzi.