A 27-year-old PR woman is deepening the rift between the pontiff and the old guard
The Pope called the Vatican bureaucracy a ‘snakepit’ (Stefano Rellandini)
WITH her film-star looks, flowing hair and leather jacket provocatively unzipped, Francesca Chaouqui cuts an unusual figure alongside the elderly men who run the Catholic church.
But when the 27-year-old public relations consultant was appointed to a key Vatican commission last month, the step was hailed as a symbol of Pope Francis’s determination to bring in fresh blood.
Last week, however, the unconventional choice turned into an embarrassment for the Argentine pontiff as attention focused on a series of tweets sent from Chaouqui’s account in the months before her nomination — including one in which Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, was labelled as “corrupt”.
The row has exposed a Vatican power-struggle appearing to pit Francis, whose vision is of “a poor church, for the poor”, against the R
Vatican PR woman Francesca Chaouqui in row over Twitter posts
- Staff writers
- News Limited Network
- August 19, 2013 12:28PM
SOCIAL media has come back to bite the glamorous 30-year-old PR consultant at the centre of a Vatican Twitter scandal.
The “semi nude” photos with her partner chewing on her shoulder on YouTube are awkward enough, but it’s Francesca Chaouqui’s Twitter use which is causing uproar in Rome.
The Vatican has launched an inquiry into the hiring of Ms Chaouqui, who was appointed as PR officer for a new eight-member committee set up in July by Pope Francis to overhaul the Vatican’s financial administration.
While her youth and beauty raised a few eyebrows among conservatives, it’s a series of tweets she made before landing the role that has become the real issue.
In one she labelled Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, as “corrupt”.
Francesca Chaouqui was appointed to an eight-member council to overhaul Vatican finances. But her Twitter postings have caused outrage. Now her appointment is being investigated. Pic: LinkedIn
Cardinal Bertone denies corruption and is reportedly considering a lawsuit.
Another tweet claimed the Pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, who stepped down in February, suffered from leukaemia – despite official denials.
A third said Paolo Gabriele, Benedict’s former butler, did not leak papal files published in a best-selling book – although he was convicted of stealing them and leaking them.
Meanwhile, Giulio Tremonti, a former Italian finance minister, said last week he was suing Ms Chaouqui and newspapers over another tweet that said he was gay.
Francesca Chaouqui posted a series of photos to YouTube of her and her partner. Picture: Francesca Chaouqui via YouTube
When the tweets were published in Italian media, Ms Chaouqui shutdown her Twitter account.
She told the newspaper Corriere della Sera she was not the only one to use it and denied writing the tweet about Mr Tremonti.
“I’m not worried because the Holy Father is not worried,” she said.
This comment, she said, had been agreed with Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman – an apparent indication the Pope intends to stand by her.
Pope Francis’s appoitment of Francesca Chaouqui is being investigated. AFP file
It was apparently only after her appointment that the Pope, on a triumphant tour of Brazil, was told of her outspoken interventions on Twitter.
So, who is Francesca Chaouqui?
She was born in Italy to a French-Moroccan origin father and Italian mother.
Before her Vatican appointment, she was an executive at Ernst and Young and also worked for a law firm. She graduated in law at The Sapienza University of Rome.
Italian media reports say she is married to a computer scientist who has worked extensively in Vatican City.
She is apparently close to several Italian cardinals and has good access to the inner workings of the Vatican.
In 2010, she posted a slideshow on YouTube that includes several apparently topless studio portraits with her boyfriend.
It is not clear if the man in the YouTube clip is her husband.
5 days ago – The “semi nude” photos with her partner chewing on her shoulder on YouTube are awkward enough, but it’s Francesca Chaouqui’s Twitter use …