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In The News
   
 
 

 

In The News

 

December 1 - "Big Brother" comes to the Vatican

Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

Having greeted the Swiss Guard in his magnificent uniform, an impeccably dressed monsignor walks briskly past until his eyes catch sight of the two security barriers located beyond the marble door frame. And his heart sinks with disappointment: from 1 january, anyone who enters or exits will have to swipe their new magnetic ID cards which are fitted with a chip that makes it possible to locate the card’s owner at any time.

Vatican City, Apostolic Palace, frescoed corridor in the Third Loggia: security checks in the Secretariat of State, the Holy See’s control room, have been boosted. And not just in terms of the times when the building can be accessed. This is just one of the consequences of the Vatileaks scandal. Locked archives, more stringent checks on those who wish to view dossiers and the obligation to declare every document that is photocopied. The Holy See has introduced a set of new, tougher rules, which even apply to the few members of the papal household. The personal secretaries’ office has been declared off limits to prevent a repeat of the leaked document incident.

The card that shows what time someone entered and left and the apostolic building and the Secretariat of State is not in itself linked to the Vatileaks scandal. It is really a way to ensure everyone respects their agreed working hours, though long gone are the days when John XXIII could respond ironically to the question once asked to him by a diplomat who was interested in finding out how many people worked in the Vatican: “About half…” But the decision to fit the cards with a chip that can be used to locate the card’s owner anywhere inside the apostolic palace, is a telltale sign that the Holy See is tightening checks beyond working hours. “Only superiors have access to information in case there is a problem - a prelate told Italian newspaper La Stampa – and so people will not be monitored constantly.”

Any Secretariat of State official who wishes to consult one of these documents must fill in a written and authorised request form. This rule already existed before but was not applied rigidly enough. Those who work inside the archive cannot carry mobile phones on them; these must be left in the cupboard provided. Tougher rules, more thorough checks and a tightening of procedures occasionally slows office work down. Even though Vatican leaders are certain Paolo Gabriele has no hidden network of accomplices, the consequences of the Vatileaks scandal are destined to make working life in the Vatican more difficult.

 

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