Vatican clergy and employees will be issued with an identity card complete with a microchip-tracking device in sweeping new security measures designed to prevent a repeat of the Vatileaks scandal.
Source: Josephine McKenna in Rome
Much tighter controls have already been introduced for anyone seeking access or photocopies of the Holy See’s archives, dossiers and documents.
The Papal Apartments, which include the living quarters of Pope Benedict XVI and the offices of his personal staff inside the Apostolic Palace, are totally off limits to anyone without strict authorisation.
Slovenian priest, Mitja Leskovar, an anti-espionage expert nicknamed ‘Monsignor 007’, is in charge of implementing the new security procedures with the identity cards expected to be introduced from January 1.
Leskovar, who grew up in the former Yugoslavia under Communism, is responsible for the transmission of confidential documents between the Vatican and its papal nuncios or diplomats inside the Secretariat of State and also supervises all requests for document photocopying within the secretariat.
Thousands of clerical and lay staff working inside the walls of the Vatican from the Apostolic Palace to the Secretariat of State will be affected by the tighter scrutiny that will also enable their superiors to monitor when they clock in and out.
The security shake-up was revealed after Claudio Sciarpelletti, the computer expert convicted of aiding and abetting the pope’s former butler Paolo Gabriele in the Vatileaks scandal, dropped his appeal on Saturday.
The move came as the three judges who assessed the case raised doubts about Sciarpelletti’s credibility and the friendship between the two men.
Sciarpelletti was convicted in November of aiding and abetting Gabriele, who himself was convicted of stealing the pontiff’s private documents and leaking them to an Italian journalist in an embarrassing security breach that rocked the Vatican earlier this year.
According to a report in the Italian daily La Stampa, Gabriele’s replacement – Sandro Mariotti known as ‘Sandrone’– is prohibited from carrying out any secretarial tasks or even sharing an office with the pope’s personal secretaries, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, as Gabriele did in the past.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Daily Telegraph these kind of security measures had been talked about within the Vatican for years but declined to comment on any details and said he did not know the precise timing of the measures.