September 12, 2018 / 8:32 PM / 2 months ago

Sistine Chapel Choir under financial investigation: Vatican

The choir of Sistine Chapel is seen before the arrival of Pope Francis to lead the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has authorized an investigation into possible financial irregularities in the world-renowned Sistine Chapel Choir, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The Vatican issued a statement confirming an investigation hours after a report in La Stampa newspaper about the choir, one of the world’s oldest singing groups.

La Stampa said Vatican magistrates were investigating the choir’s manager, who is a layman, and its director, who is a priest, on suspicion of embezzlement, fraud and money laundering.

The Vatican statement said only that the pope had authorized the investigation several months ago and that it was continuing.

Efforts by Reuters to reach the two men for comment were unsuccessful. La Stampa website also had no comment from them.

Last May, the choir, which is made up of men and young boys and has a recording contract with a major label, performed at the gala opening of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York called “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”

Its summer tour of the United States was canceled without official explanation in July.

Founded in 1471, it is believed to be the world’s oldest choir, with roots going back to the Schola Cantorum instituted by Pope Saint Gregory the Great around the year 600.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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