Pope Francis 'Not Pleased' About Scandalous Canonization Banquet

Friday, 23 May 2014 12:31 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Pope Francis has expressed displeasure at a sumptuous banquet held on a Vatican veranda during the recent dual canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, according to reports in Italy.

The pontiff, who leads a life of austerity and humility, was "not pleased" when alleged photos of the extravagant feast appeared in the Italian website Dagospia, according to the Catholic News Agency quoting a Vatican official.

The photos appeared to depict 150 guests, including businessmen, leading journalists and Italian religious leaders, gathered on the veranda of the Vatican Prefecture for Economic Affairs during the April 27 canonization ceremony.

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Vatican Prefecture for Economic Affairs, told Italia 1 television network, "I can’t reveal what he (Francis) said. I informed him about it, and I can only say that he was not pleased, so to speak. But I can assure you that these incidents will not happen again."

Versaldi said that he was trying to get to the bottom of who was behind the VIP dinner in a Vatican office, which reportedly cost private sponsors around $25,000, according to the news agency.

The Italian magazine L’Espresso reported that the "host" of the banquet was Francesca Chaouqui, who sits on the Vatican financial oversight commission. However, Chaouqui insisted that she didn’t organize the event, and claimed that the report was an attempt to "discredit her" before the Pope, said CNA.

Versaldi added, "Like many of you, I was also surprised and outraged by this. I have immediately begun the search for an explanation, which is still in progress, and I have informed all of the chief authorities in order to try to find the person responsible for all of this, which clashes with the spirit of a canonization and especially with the style Pope Francis wanted for this celebration, one of sobriety and participation by the people."

The photos also appeared to show Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the prefecture and member of the commission overseeing the Holy See’s economic and administrative departments, distributing Holy Communion to guests at the soiree, the news agency said.

However, L’Espresso said that the Pope was also not thrilled with how Communion was given on the balcony during the Mass, using a regular glass cup instead of a ciborium or paten.

Since he took office last year, Pope Francis has stressed his concerns for the poor and the oppressed while pushing for economic policies in the U.S. and other countries that support the underprivileged.

And he’s leading by example, by forgoing the luxurious trappings of the papacy and leading a humble and austere lifestyle. He lives in a Vatican hostel instead of the papal palace and wears an iron cross around his neck instead of a gilded one, while he’s also retired the papal Mercedes in favor of a beaten-up Ford Focus.

This weekend Pope Francis will be arriving in Israel for his first visit to the Holy Land as leader of the Catholic world.

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