Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield broke the news that the former director of the Vatican’s U.S. missionary fundraising organization had engineered the transfer of $17 million into a nonprofit and impact investing vehicle that he controlled — a scandal that Pope Francis acknowledged when he denounced “alleged corruption in the name of the missionary church.”
Working with AP philanthropy editor Glenn Gamboa, Winfield pulled the Rev. Andrew Small’s Form 990s and discovered losses that far exceeded $10.2 million, since the Pontifical Mission Societies in the U.S. had poured an additional $7 million into his nonprofit over the years.
The AP story was published widely online and picked up by the Italian media, with the pope’s favorite newspaper, Il Messaggero, national daily La Repubblica and AP Italian partner LaPresse writing the story with AP credit. Winfield learned that in a private meeting immediately before the audience, Pope Francis told a group of Spanish journalists about the AP story, which he had read the night before. Citing Winfield by name, Francis said the church needs honest journalists who write the truth about the Vatican, even when it’s unpleasant.