VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican said Wednesday it had placed two Italian journalists under investigation in its probe over leaked documents that revealed waste, greed and mismanagement at the highest levels of the Catholic Church hierarchy.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi wrote two bombshell books detailing the uphill battle Pope Francis is facing in reforming the Vatican. Their books, released last week, were based on leaked documents from a reform commission Francis named to get a handle on the Vatican's finances and propose reforms.
In his book, titled "Merchants at the Temple," Nuzzi says Pope Francis' efforts to reform the administration of the Catholic Churchhave seen battle lines drawn; "the Pope's men are lined up on one side, while on the other are his enemies, the defenders of the status quo, adverse to any and all change."
Already, two members of the commission who had access to the documents have been arrested.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday that Nuzzi and Fittipaldi had been placed under investigation by Vatican magistrates for their alleged role in dealing with the leaked documents. He said other officials were being looked at for having possibly cooperated in the scandal.
Reached in Berlin, Nuzzi said he knew nothing of the investigation. Fittipaldi was quoted by his L'Espresso magazine as saying the investigation is the price he has to pay for doing his job.
In the Italian and Vatican legal systems, people are frequently placed under investigation without charges ever being filed as part of the information-gathering process by investigative magistrates. It wasn't immediately clear that the Vatican would have jurisdiction over the two journalists if they saw or were given the documents outside Vatican territory.
The books were based on documents that revealed millions of euros in lost rental income from the Vatican's vast real estate holdings, millions in missing inventory from the Vatican's tax-free department store, supermarket and pharmacy, as well as the greed of monsignors and cardinals who lusted after huge apartments and the exorbitant costs for getting a saint made.
The books have spawned a week of headlines in Italian newspapers, prompting the Vatican on Wednesday to come out in force to dispute the reports and warn that it would take legal steps to protect its reputation.
Pope Francis' top deputy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Wednesday the reports have bordered on "hysterical" and were simply "attacks on the church."
He acknowledged, however, that Francis' reform agenda has run into "resistance."
CBS News' Barry Petersen previously reported that the Vatican's response to the book has been two-fold; first, a statement attacking both of the new books as "the fruit of a grave betrayal of the pope's trust."
Second, the Vatican police force arrested two people who were on the commission, a Spanish priest and a woman who served as a public relations expert for COSEA. It's believed they leaked information on the commission, including actual recordings of the pope at private meetings.
Candida Moss, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, told CBS News previously that while the arrests just days before the books' release may give the appearance that the new pope is "in line with everyone else in the church," in fact "the actual revelations themselves only promote him as someone who has been trying to change the atmosphere and culture at the Vatican."
The second book, called "Avarice," details a lavish lifestyle for Vatican officials. Incidents like a $26,000 helicopter ride for the Vatican's then Secretary of State -- who was later fired from his job by Pope Francis.