(Updated: October 14th 18:29 CEST)

Pope Francis is preparing to fire Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican police and security force, over the controversial ‘Wanted’ poster he issued after recent raids on the Vatican Secretariat of State and Financial Information Authority (AIF), a report has claimed.

Driving the news

Well-connected Italian paper Corriere della Sera made the claim that the Pope has lost faith in Giani, the 57-year-old ex-Italian policeman and secret agent who since 2006 has been Inspector General of the Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City State and chief papal bodyguard.


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Go deeper

Francis’ problem with Giani is reportedly the order the latter issued after the October 1 sweep on key Vatican offices over suspicious “financial transactions”.

That order instructed Holy See security personnel not to let on Vatican grounds the five employees who have been suspended over the financial scandal.

The trouble is that the Vatican considers the memo – leaked to the press – to have been heavy-handed.

In a Vatican paper editorial, the Holy See said that publishing the names, photos and biographies of the suspended employees amounted to a summary court-martial that lacked due process.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed that the Pope has condemned the “illicit dissemination of a document meant for the internal use of the security forces of the Holy See”.

Bruni explained that Francis considers the publication of the order to be “comparable to a mortal sin, since it violates human dignity and goes against the principle of presumption of innocence”.

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Why it matters

Sources explain that it’s difficult to overestimate the power Giani has enjoyed in the Vatican.

Since taking charge of the Vatican Gendarmerie in 2006, he has turned the Holy See’s 130 police into a professional corps, enabling its entry into Interpol in 2008.

He also led ongoing Vatican investigations into the disappearance of Emmanuela Orlandi, the daughter of an employee of the Holy See who disappeared in 1983, and into the ‘Vatileaks II’ scandal that led to Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation in 2013.

But those same Vatican sources also indicate that Giani’s power could be “too much”.

Giani was in charge of the investigation that led to the raids October 1, over the Vatican purchase of two luxury properties in London for the excessive amount of 350 million euros.

The Inspector General tapped the phones and bugged the offices of the five suspended employees, who included Monsignor Mauro Carlino, head of documentation at the Secretariat of State, and layman Tomasso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority.

But it was the publication and subsequent leak of the excessive ‘Wanted’ poster that seems to have forced the Pope’s hand.

Vatican authorities are now demanding Giani explain himself, and Francis has even gone so far as to phone the Inspector General personally to reprimand him over the matter, Corriere della Sera claimed.

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What’s next

Corriere della Sera said the Pope is ready to fire Giani.

Francis’ problem, however, is that that dismissing Giani now could give the impression that the move is in retaliation for the October 1 raids, and a vote of no-confidence in Giani’s investigations of the Orlandi and Vatileaks cases.

However it turns out, Corriere‘s sources say that a position is being readied for Giani in some international organisation outside the Holy See.

But will firing the Inspector General be enough to calm the latest corruption storm in the Vatican?

In the same week as the raids, the Pope appointed top anti-Mafia prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone as President of the Vatican City State Tribunal, in a move that observers hailed as a doubling-down of his commitment to fight financial misdoing in the Holy See.

This last week, too, Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu, the President of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) – or ‘Vatican bank’ – denied there was a war in the Vatican over the raids.

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Original story published October 13th 15:15 CEST

Update: October 14th 18:29 CEST

Today Pope Francis accepted Giani’s resignation.

The Holy See Press Office released the following statement:

On 2nd October some media outlets published a confidential order, signed by the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, concerning the consequences of certain administrative limitations imposed upon Holy See staff members. This publication was prejudicial to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the Gendarmerie.

In order to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation, coordinated by the Promoter of Justice and carried out by the Gendarmerie, since the perpetrator of the external circulation of the order – reserved to the staff of the Gendarmerie and of the Pontifical Swiss Guard – remains unknown, and although the Commander bears no personal responsibility in the unfolding of the events, Domenico Giani has tendered his resignation to the Holy Father out of love for the Church and faithfulness to Peter’s Successor.

In receiving his resignation, the Holy Father conversed at length with Domenico Giani and expressed his appreciation to the Commander for his gesture, an expression of freedom and institutional sensitivity, which honours Commander Giani and the work he has carried out with humility and discretion in the service of the Petrine Ministry and the Holy See. Pope Francis also recalled Domenico Giani’s twenty years of unquestionable faithfulness and loyalty and underlined how, by offering an outstanding witness in many parts of the world, Commander Giani was able to establish and guarantee a lasting atmosphere of ease and security around the Holy Father.

In his farewell to Domenico Giani, the Holy Father also thanked him for the extreme competence shown in the performance of his many sensitive tasks, also at international level, and for the undisputed professionalism he has brought to the Vatican Gendarmerie.


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.