Powerful Vatican Cardinal Becciu resigns amid scandal

Clay Curtis
September 27, 2020

The Vatican provided no details on why Pope Francis accepted Becciu's resignation in a statement issued late Thursday.

One of the most influential Vatican cardinals, Angelo Becciu from Italy, resigned his position unexpectedly on Thursday, the Holy See announced without explanation.

An investigation into that deal, which involved several middlemen, led to the suspension a year ago of five Vatican employees, the resignation of the Vatican's police chief and the departure of the former head of the Vatican's Financial Information Authority (AIF).

But Cardinal Becciu told Il Fatto Quotidiano, an Italian newspaper, that investigators "have found nothing" to accuse him of regarding the London property.

But Becciu denied he did anything wrong, much less criminal, during an extraordinary news conference, a day after Pope Francis fired him and yanked his rights and privileges as a cardinal.

After meeting with the pope, Becciu said, he called his brother and learned that the funds in question were still unspent, as they were being reserved for a large planned project.

Becciu, the former No. 2 in the Vatican's secretariat of state, admitted he sent the money from the office's asset fund in 2017 to his home diocese in Ozieri, Sardinia, for its charitable work. The cooperative is a non-profit that runs a bakery and some vineyards that Becciu said employs around 60 young people who otherwise wouldn't have jobs.

The Vatican announcement did not give a reason for the resignation but referred questions to Cardinal Becciu; he did not respond to Catholic News Service's emailed request for comment. "I am ready to shout the truth".

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The video, which was shot from a high-rise building near the facility, showed large plumes of smoke coming out of the building. The company has another sprawling European-themed campus close by, which has offices for 25,000 employees.

Giovanni Angelo Becciu attends the courtesy visit of relatives following a consistory for the creation of new cardinals on June 28, 2018 in the Apostolic Palace at St Peter's basilica in Vatican.

Further, the Vatican statement identified Becciu as "His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Becciu", pointing to the fact he would remain a cardinal but not have any rights.

On Friday, Becciu said he was "devastated" at being pushed out as he defended himself against accusations of corruption. Vatican gendarmes confiscated documents and electronic devices, and five Vatican employees were suspended on allegations of financial wrongdoing involving property dealings in London's upscale Chelsea district worth some $350 million. On another occasion, Cardinal Becciu countermanded an audit of all Vatican finances ordered by Cardinal Pell.

It was reportedly Becciu who blocked an external audit of all Vatican departments in 2016, which was to be carried out by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments", Pell said in the statement.

In that role he was in constant contact with Pope Benedict XVI and the current pope, who made him a cardinal in 2018.

The company worked for the Vatican embassy in Egypt and also for the one in Cuba when Becciu was ambassador there.

This pressure will have increased exponentially if Italian prosecutors plan to bring charges of their own: the Vatican simply can not risk appearing to have shied away from bringing a case if the Italian courts get involved.

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