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Ex-minister sues Vatican panelist for 'gay' tweet

14/08/2013

Called senior cardinal 'corrupt', Tremonti 'gay'

Ex-minister sues Vatican panelist for 'gay' tweet

(By Christopher Livesay) Vatican City, August 14 - A former Italian economy minister is suing a member of the new Vatican financial reform panel and newspaper editors over allegations that he is gay and that a senior Vatican cardinal is corrupt. "I am taking legal action against (Francesca) Immacolata Chaouqui as well as (newspaper) employees and publishers," said Giulio Tremonti, who served under three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi. Tremonti told ANSA that one of those being sued is Alessandro Sallusti, editor of Il Giornale, the daily that printed the allegations. The Vatican has reportedly opened a probe into the hiring of Chaouqui, 30, who made headlines last month when she became the only woman and only Italian named to an eight-member pontifical commission set up to overhaul the Vatican's financial administration. Before her appointment, the former Ernst & Young communications manager made prolific Twitter posts about affairs at the Holy See. Among the most incendiary was a March tweet in which she called Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone "corrupt" and alleged he was involved in shady business affairs with an unidentified Italian company. In a February post she fueled rumors that then pope Benedict XVI was suffering from cancer in the run-up to his abdication: "I confirm: the pope has been suffering from leukaemia for more than a year". The former economy minister's charges against her stem from this tweet, which was subsequently published in Il Giornale: "Tremonti held an account with the (Vatican Bank). They shut it down when they found out he is gay". Tremonti indicated Wednesday he was especially offended by being associated with corruption and the so-called 'Gay lobby' Pope Francis said existed in and around the Vatican's affairs earlier this summer. "Given that I have absolutely nothing to do with (either), I'm sure to win in court," he said. Chaouqui, whose father is French of Moroccan origin, also hinted she was close to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, famous for publishing leaked documents from Benedict's butler, arrested last year in the Vatileaks scandal. Her account has since been shut down. Chaouqui claims the messages were tweeted by other people who had access to her account and that circulated images of the tweets had been tampered with. "I'm not worried because the Holy Father is not worried," she said in a statement "approved by Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi". Bertone is expected to broach the issue with Francis in a lunch meeting Thursday at the pontifical summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.