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Trial set in case of donations for Popes hospital for kids

VATICAN CITY—Other than St. Peter’s Basilica, there is hardly better real estate in Vatican City than the sprawling penthouse apartment in the Vatican gardens, where the rooftop terrace has in-your-face views of the dome itself and overlooks the hotel that Pope Francis calls home.The 3,230-square-foot bachelor pad, belonging to the previous pope’s second-in-command, looked even better after undergoing a 422,000-euro ($608,800) facelift.Who footed the bill? The Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital foundation, which raises money for sick children at the “pope’s hospital” in Rome.A recent Associated Press investigation uncovered a secret 2014 Vatican probe that found that the hospital’s mission under its past administration had become “more aimed at profit” than patient care. Now the renovations at Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s flat have sparked a criminal trial that shines a light on how some of that money was spent.The Vatican on Tuesday will put its past hospital president, Giuseppe Profiti, and former hospital treasurer, Massimo Spina, on trial on charges they diverted hospital donations to renovate Bertone’s retirement fixer-upper. The Vatican tribunal, located just steps away from the palazzo in question, has warned the two defendants would be tried in absentia if they don’t show up.Article Continued BelowIt’s the latest financial scandal to strike the Holy See as Francis works to clean up centuries of shady business dealings in the walled-in, 44-hectare offshore city state, the world’s smallest. And it comes as Francis copes with the fallout from the embarrassing exit of his top financial adviser, Cardinal George Pell, who returned to his native Australia last week to face trial on years-old sex abuse charges.In this November 2015 file photo, Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi talk to reporters outside the Vatican City from the Perugino gate. A recent Associated Press investigation uncovered a secret 2014 Vatican probe that found that the pope's hospital’s mission under its past administration had become “more aimed at profit” than patient care.  (Gregorio Borgia / AP)  Profiti, who had been appointed hospital president by Bertone in 2008, has said the 422,000 euros in hospital foundation funds that he used to spruce up Bertone’s home was an investment, since he intended to use it for fundraising events for the hospital.“The presence of Your Illustrious Eminence as a guest at these events would be a guarantee of a certain success in terms of participation and relative economic and institutional return,” Profiti wrote Bertone in a Nov. 7, 2013 letter pitching the idea.

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