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Pope condemns Vatican leaks, vows to continue reforms

Pope Francis has spoken for the first time about the so-called "Vatileaks 2" scandal. The pontiff has called the leaks a crime and vowed to continue reforms in the Church.

Pope Francis told a crowd of worshippers in St. Peter's Square on Sunday that the leaking of Vatican documents showing financial misconduct was "a deplorable act" and that he would continue reforms to clean up the church.

"This sad fact will certainly not distract me from the reform work that I and my collaborators are pursuing with the support of all of you," the Pope said to the crowd.

It was the first time the pontiff has spoken since two books were published last week documenting financial mismanagement and greed within the church. The documents are thought to have come from a former committee established by the Pope that reviewed Vatican financial affairs in 2013-14.

Two members of the committee, an Italian public relations consultant and a Spanish priest have been arrested for the leaks.

"I and my aides already knew these documents well, and measures have been taken which have started to bear fruit, some even visible," the Pope said.

Among the revelations in the two books, "Merchants in the Temple" by Gianluigi Nuzzi and "Avarice" by Emiliano Fittipaldi, is that the cost for benefactors promoting a candidate for sainthood can run as high as a half a million euros.

In one case, an Italian cardinal and former Vatican number two under Benedict XVI, was alleged to have had some 200,000 euros ($214,000) worth of renovations done to his 300-square-meter apartment, all paid for by a Vatican children's hospital foundation.

"If a believer speaks about poverty, and leads the life of a Pharaoh, this cannot be done," said the pontiff, who is known for his advocacy for the poor.

Pope Francis said he would continue reform efforts he has launched within the Church. The so-called "Vatileaks2" scandal is a reference to another leak affair in 2012 that is believed to have led to the Pope's predecessor, Benedict XVI, resigning in 2013.

The leaks are the latest of a number of scandals to rock the Church.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)

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