Vatican properties ‘used as massage parlours’

Rome properties owned by the Vatican are being used as saunas and massage parlours, according to the latest leaks in the Italian press.

Vatican properties 'used as massage parlours'
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The buildings are also allegedly being rented out for cheap to powerful friends and allies, the reports said.

The revelations come a week after the Vatican arrested a priest and a former employee on suspicion of leaking documents, which formed the basis of two new books, detailing the murky world of the Vatican’s finances.

Luxury homes were rented out at knock-down prices, and hotels and beauty centres managed by private companies became places “to meet secretly”, the reports said.

Some of the properties listed include premises close to the Italian Parliament and a solarium near Piazza Barberini.

One Vatican department, the Congregation for the Propogation of the Faith, which owns hundreds of properties in Rome worth millions of euros, was also mentioned.

Two books by Italian investigative journalists, published last Wednesday, claim charity money was allegedly spent on refurbishing the houses of powerful cardinals, while the Vatican bank continues to shelter suspected criminals.

Suspected moles – PR expert Francesca Chaouqui and Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda –risk up to eight years in prison if the case gets to court.

Pope Francis on Sunday pledged to forge ahead with reforms within the Church, while decrying the “deplorable” leaks over uncontrolled spending by the Vatican.


Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.